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The cases of people living with hepatitis C have reached such staggering numbers that the CDC is calling it a “silent epidemic.” They report a 150 percent increase in new cases in recent year — but that’s not the most concerning number. At least 50 percent of people living with hepatitis C don’t even know they are infected.

What is Viral Hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis can be confusing, but the good news is there have been advances that make all three types of the disease curable, but you have to be diagnosed first. First of all, there are three types of viral hepatitis. According to the CDC, each version can produce similar symptoms and they all affect the liver.

Hepatitis A is a short-term illness that is vaccine preventable. Most people who do get infected with the hepatitis A virus recover over time with little to no lasting effects. It is usually transmitted person to person when you consume food or water that has been handled in an unsanitary fashion. The symptoms usually include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. They usually resolve on their own within several months.

Hepatitis B is also vaccine-preventable, but can become much more serious. The hepatitis B virus is transmitted from an infected person to a non-infected person when body fluids are exchanged. This can happen through sexual contact, needle sharing, or from the birth of a baby by an infected mother. The hep B virus begins as a short-term infection of the liver. It can be mild with few, if any, symptoms or be severe enough to require hospitalization. Not everyone is able to clear the infection and they go on to develop chronic hepatitis B. That’s a lifelong infection that can lead to serious health problems, like liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.

Hepatitis C is similar to hepatitis B except in one key component — it is not preventable. There is no vaccine that will protect you against the virus. People born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than most, but young people who inject drugs account for the staggering rise in numbers. Most people who get infected go on to develop a chronic, lifelong infection, which can cause serious liver damage and even liver cancer over time. New treatments offer a cure for many people, but they are costly and won’t prevent you from contracting the virus again.

The keys to beating hepatitis are:

  • Vaccination if available.
  • Avoiding transmitting behaviors.
  • Getting tested so treatment can begin.

Hepatitis Awareness Month

The month of May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Any Lab Test Now is working to shed light on this hidden epidemic by raising awareness of viral hepatitis and encouraging people to get tested. Our Hepatitis Panel tests for all three types of the virus. We also offer individual Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C screenings as well.

The road to treatment begins with knowing where you stand. Working together with Any Lab Test Now, let’s shine the light on this “silent epidemic” and do our part in helping KO the ABC’s of hepatitis.