Education | What is Hepatitis C?
In the year 2004, ACoRN changed its name and mission statement in order to include services to those both infected and affected by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). ACoRN’s staff and Board of Directors became increasingly aware that HCV had become the leading blood borne pandemic in the United States, as well as the world and that greater numbers of those co-infected with HCV and HIV were dying. There are 5 times as many cases of HCV as HIV in the US.
So what exactly is HCV and how can you protect yourself?
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that infects the liver. It can have no symptoms, or just fairly common and vague ones like fatigue, sweats, aches, or poor concentration. Many people live for years with HCV before they have any symptoms. Most people carry HCV for life once they get it, and many people develop serious liver damage or even liver cancer as a result.
You can get hepatitis C if blood from an infected person gets into your blood. The amount of blood necessary to transmit HCV is so small that you may not even be able to see it. What activities can put you at risk of getting hepatitis C?
- Sharing items such as needles, straws, notes and drug paraphernalia (including spoons, cottons, water, cookers...)
- Non-sterile tattooing, piercing, or acupuncture
- Sharing personal items that nick, scratch, or cut skin, such as clippers, razors, tweezers, scissors, toothbrushes, nail or bath brushes
- Unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex
- Health care treatment abroad
Ever been at risk? Talk to us! Get information! Get tested! We are here for you, and we offer free and confidential HCV testing and counseling.