As a center of excellence, St. Hope Foundation has medical experts fully competent in treating Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C. Under the direction of Dr. James Sims, MD, AAHIVS, Chief Medical Director, internal medicine and infectious disease physicians, our medical team stays abreast of the latest advancements in medical care. With the new treatment developments for Hepatitis C and B, it has afforded patients more effective options to treat and clear or control these viruses.
What We Offer Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B Diagnosed Patients
- Thoughtful and expert consultation during your initial visit
- Evaluation to determine if treatment is appropriate
- Assignment to a specialized Care Team for Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B Treatment
- Onsite Specialty Pharmacy (all medications)
- Case Manager assignment to help enroll you in Patient Assistance Programs
- Mental Health Counseling services
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) spreads through contaminated blood. Until recently, hepatitis C treatment required weekly injections that often had agonizing side effects. Today, chronic HCV is usually curable with oral medications taken every day for two to six months. Still, about half of people with HCV don’t know they’re infected, mainly because they have no symptoms, which can take decades to appear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a one-time screening blood test for everyone at increased risk of the infection. The largest group at risk includes people born between 1945 and 1965 — a population five times more likely to be infected than those born in later years.
Hepatitis C is chronic for about 80% of sufferers. Patients who forego treatment are at increased risk for liver disease, liver cancer, and death.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than six months. Having chronic hepatitis B increases your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer, or cirrhosis — a condition that causes permanent scarring of the liver. Most people infected with hepatitis B as adults recover fully, even if their signs and symptoms are severe. Infants and children are more likely to develop a chronic hepatitis B infection. A vaccine can prevent it, but there’s no cure. If you’re infected, taking certain precautions can help prevent spreading HBV to others.
What are the signs and symptoms of acute HCV infection?
Persons with newly acquired HCV infection usually are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that are unlikely to prompt a visit to a healthcare professional. When symptoms occur, they can include:
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored stool
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain
Approximately 20%–30% of those newly infected with HCV experience fatigue, abdominal pain, poor appetite, or jaundice.
In those persons who do develop symptoms, the average time period from exposure to symptom onset is 4–12 weeks (range: 2–24 weeks).
Most persons with chronic HCV infection are asymptomatic. However, many have chronic liver disease, which can range from mild to severe, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Chronic liver disease in HCV-infected persons is usually insidious, progressing slowly without any signs or symptoms for several decades. In fact, HCV infection is often not recognized until asymptomatic persons are identified as HCV-positive when screened for blood donation or when elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT, a liver enzyme) levels are detected during routine examinations.
Testing and Diagnosis
HCV testing is recommended for anyone at increased risk for HCV infection, including:
- Persons born from 1945 through 1965
- Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once many years ago
- Recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Patients who have ever received long-term hemodialysis treatment
- Persons with known exposures to HCV, such as healthcare workers after using needlesticks involving HCV-positive blood, or recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested HCV-positive.
- All persons with HIV infection
- Healthcare workers after using needlesticks involving HCV-positive blood recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested HCV-positive
- Patients with signs or symptoms of liver disease (e.g., abnormal liver enzyme tests)
- Children born to HCV-positive mothers (to avoid detecting maternal antibody, and these children should not be tested before age 18 months
Hepatitis C Resources
Patients with chronic medical conditions have the opportunity to learn a great deal about their conditions from the internet. The St. Hope Foundation does not specifically endorse these websites. Rather, we believe the information provided will be useful, but please remember to consult your physician prior to making any significant change in your treatment regimen.
CDC – Hepatitis C – http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm
Hepatitis Risk Assessment – http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/?s_cid=bb-dvh-hra_002
HCV Advocate – http://www.hcvadvocate.org/
Hepatitis C – Who Should Be Treated? – http://www.hivandhepatitis.com/hcv-treatment/hcv-treatment-guidelines/4801-new-aasldidsa-guidelines-who-should-be-treated-for-hepatitis-c-and-when