What you need to know about hepatitis C | Health Column

  • Friday, November 10, 2017 2:17pm
  • Life
Dr. Diego Lopez de Castilla

Dr. Diego Lopez de Castilla

By Dr. Diego Lopez de Castilla

Receiving a hepatitis C diagnosis can be alarming — news about an infectious disease is never welcome. But for some patients, the social perception of being diagnosed with hepatitis C can be more damaging than the virus itself. It can be particularly scary because not everyone understands what it means to have hepatitis C, and many misconstrued perceptions exist about how the disease is transmitted.

While many assume that hepatitis C is only spread through heavy drug use, it’s important to know that people have contracted the disease from regular activities like getting a tattoo or receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992. In some cases, it can take just one encounter of unprotected sexual activity or drug use from decades past to become ill with the virus, as well.

That’s why it’s important we work toward destigmatizing a treatable disease like hepatitis C. The virus — an infection that attacks and inflames the liver, spread by an infected person’s blood — is not always easily detected, and if left untreated it can lead to dangerous health concerns.

The good news is that it’s completely treatable and preventable. To prevent the chances of contracting hepatitis C, practice safe sex; don’t share items like needles or razors; and confirm that the equipment used at your tattoo parlor have met sanitation standards.

Additionally, recent national efforts have encouraged people born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested for hepatitis C, as people born during this time are five times more likely than other adults to be infected with the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you suspect you’ve been infected with hepatitis C, take precautionary measures and get tested right away. Several medications have recently become available to treat the disease, and your provider can work with you to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Who should get tested for hepatitis C?

Current or former injection drug users

Those living with HIV/AIDS

Individuals who have had abnormal liver tests or liver disease

Anyone who received donated blood or organs before 1992

Hemodialysis patients

Patients born between 1945 and 1965

For more information on prevention, symptoms and treatment of hepatitis C, please visit www.evergreenhealth.com/hepatitis-c.

Diego Lopez de Castilla, MD, MPH is an infectious disease and travel medicine specialist at EvergreenHealth Infectious Disease Care. He specializes in treating HIV medicine and co-infections, hepatitis C, tropical diseases, infections in the immunocompromised patient, bone, soft tissue and post-operative infections. He has successfully treated over 100 patients with chronic hepatitis C and is an expert in the prevention and treatment of infections.

More in Life

Keynote speaker Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, spoke of creating technologies, workplaces, and communities that celebrate and harness the power of people of all abilities, and how she has found strength through her own disability. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Kindering raises more than $330,000 at annual luncheon

Kindering CEO retires after 40 years at the helm.

Fall into wellness

Simple tips for staying healthy this season.

The five-part series workshops will take place every Saturday leading to the event, from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. at the Redmond Senior Center. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
‘Thriller’ dance workshops in session

Teresa Osborne’s Thriller workshops begin in preparation for Thrill of the World

Shravya Kakulmarri shares about her experiences at the Hospital de Câncer de Barretos in Brazil and her goal to help decrease diabetes in Hispanic and Latino populations in Brownsville, Texas. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
Local teens organize eighth annual TEDxYouth event

Nine speakers participated in TEDxYouth emphasizing on the theme, “Escaping the Echo Chamber” on Sept. 29.

Welcoming Week brings together community for education and conversation

Eastside cities are joining the regional Welcoming Week program to support their diverse communties.

Redmond’s Downtown Park is now open

The grand opening event included a ribbon cutting, community picnic, a performance by Lucia Neare’s Theatrical Wonders and more.

Improving supply helps slow escalating home prices

A look at the regional real estate market.

Moving Art Center hosts concert series at Downtown Park

There will be three performances for the next three Thursdays.

From left: Heather Johnston-Robinson, August Robinson and fellow student. Photo by Kristina Krug.
Rep. Suzan DelBene talks with local parents about what they think of the Summer Meals program that aims to help hungry children. Kailan Manandic/staff Photo
Rep. Suzan DelBene helps feed Kingsgate kids

DelBene handed out free lunches at the Kingsgate Library Summer Meals program.

Redmond, partners celebrate launch of new King County Community Court

New program aims to help low-level offenders by offering services and sanctions as an alternative to jail time.

Lieutenant Tim Gately visits with Peyton, a local kid at one of the 65 neighborhood block parties throughout Redmond. Kailan Manandic/Staff Photo
Redmond celebrates National Night out with 65 block parties

Police officers and firefighters toured around to meet with locals and support the community.