Introduction to Hepatitis C
Approximately 4.1 million Americans have hepatitis C. Up to 3.9 million of these people have chronic hepatitis C—yet more than 75% of those infected don't even realize that they have it. Because hepatitis C often goes symptomless until the late stages (sometimes decades later), when severe liver damage occurs, it is frequently referred to as a "silent disease."
What this means is that if you're in a high risk category, getting tested for hepatitis C is the most important step you can take towards leading a healthy, full and proactive life. Current treatment options—and exciting new breakthroughs—can help you manage your condition and prevent long term damage to your liver.
So who is at risk? What you may not realize is that the majority of people with hepatitis C were born between 1946 and 1964—making up nearly 75% of those infected with chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is spread when blood from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, the most common risk factor for becoming infected is IV drug use, but if you received a blood transfusion prior to 1992 (when screening for the disease started), you're also at a higher risk and should be tested for the disease.
If you've been diagnosed with hepatitis C, or think you may be at risk, your mind is likely racing with countless questions. What is this disease going to do to my body? How is my life going to change? Try to relax–you're far from alone; in fact, an estimated 17,000 new hepatitis C infections are diagnosed in the United States each year. We're here to help you take comfort in the fact that despite the seriousness of hepatitis C, there are treatments that can help prevent, decrease and manage the damage it can do to your liver.
It's very important for you to talk openly with your doctor, understand your condition and know your options. Rest assured; we're here to help you do just that.