we do something about [HEP-C] soon, it will kill more people
than AIDS"--Everett Koop
Front Page News Keywords: BAD TAINTED BLOOD TRAIL
HEPATITIS-C HEP-C RESOURCE
Published: STATS UPDATED DAILY Author: www.epidemic.org
(Trustees of Dartmouth College)
Posted on 11/16/1999 10:44:08 PST by Askel5
We stand at the precipice of a grave threat to our public health
It affects people from all walks of life,
in every state, in every country.
And unless we do something about it soon,
it will kill more people than AIDS.
Former U.S. Surgeon General
Important Message from Dr. Koop
C is a life-threatening, blood borne disease of the liver. It
is caused by a virus, and is far more easily transmitted than
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. It is suspected that there
are, at present, more than 4.5 million people in the United
States that are infected with hepatitis C, and more than 200
million around the world - far more people than are infected
with HIV. Hepatitis C is rapidly becoming a global epidemic,
and this makes hepatitis C one of the greatest public health
threats faced in this century, and perhaps one of the greatest
threats to be faced in the next century.
is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver,
usually producing swelling and, in many cases, permanent
damage to liver tissues. Liver disease strikes at the very
heart of the body's functions and processes, and can be
life-threatening. You cannot live without a liver. A number of
different agents can cause hepatitis, including infectious
diseases, chemical poisons, drugs and alcohol. Viral hepatitis
refers to a set of at least six viruses that are known to
cause hepatitis, which vary in their severity and
characteristics. These are hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV),
hepatitis C (Hepatitis C Virus), hepatitis D (HDV), hepatitis E (HEV), and
hepatitis G (HGV). Hepatitis C can lead to serious, permanent
liver damage, and in many cases, death.
Hepatitis C (Hepatitis C Virus) virus was identified in 1989. Unlike the
other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis C is very difficult
for the immune system to overcome. Hepatitis C is a one of a
special set of viruses, called RNA viruses, which can
outmanuever the human immune system. They do this by mutating
rapidly, often evolving faster than the immune system can
develop an effective response to them.
by RNA viruses like Hepatitis C are hard to beat - and can be
a result, most Hepatitis C infections (80-90%) become chronic
and lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis (scarring of
the liver tissues) and liver failure. Hepatitis C infection is
typically mild in its early stages, and it is rarely
recognized until it has caused significant damage to the
liver. The cycle of disease from infection to significant
liver damage can take 20 years or more.
C is believed to be transmitted only by blood. However, unlike
many other blood borne viruses virtually any source of blood
or blood products seems to be capable of carrying the virus,
even if the source is indirect - like a used razor, for
example. This makes hepatitis C far more transmissible than
most other blood borne viruses - including HIV.
transfusions account for nearly 10% of all cases of Hepatitis
C. Prior to 1990, there were no tests for hepatitis C made
against the blood supply, and since 1993, risk has been
negligible. Anyone who received a blood transfusion prior to
that time, however, is at risk for having been infected.
almost any direct or indirect exposure to infected blood can
transmit the virus. This includes I.V. drug use and poorly
sterilized medical instruments, blood spills, unbandaged cuts
or injuries, and tattooing or body piercing, as well as less
obvious sources of blood, such as shared razors or
toothbrushes, or body secretions (such as mucous) that may
contain small amounts of blood. In about 10% of all cases, no
risk factors have been identified. Heterosexual and homosexual
activity, particularly with multiple partners and in the
absence of protective measures, can also transmit the virus.
Close contact between household members has also been
vaccine against Hepatitis C may not be available for many
years to come. Without prompt intervention to care for
infected populations and prevent the spread of disease, the
death rate from hep C will surpass that from AIDS by the year
2000 - and it can only get worse.
site will offer comprehensive information concerning hepatitis
C, including tutorials on viruses, the liver, and the
epidemiology of hep C, and interactive tests and quizzes. It
will also feature stories of patients, physicians, and
researchers that are fighting this disease, and offer a number
of additional videos, games, and children's stories.