Hepatitis C Testing
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common chronic, blood-carried infection in the country. Left untreated, it can lead to serious liver problems. Out of hepatitis A, B and C, the latter is most lethal.
The CDC reports 2.7 million people are living with this chronic (over 6 months) infection. Many people have hepatitis C and aren’t even aware. It can take years before any symptoms manifest.
Transference through the shared use of drugs, especially needles and paraphernalia, is common. The risk increases if people have used cocaine or other non-IV drugs during sex. People with HIV and those who participate in group sex are also at risk.
Hepatitis C Signs and Symptoms
Many with the HCV virus, especially those who recently contracted the disease, don’t show any symptoms. When they do appear, they can be easily mistaken for something mild or less severe. It may start out with symptoms common to several other illnesses like fever, fatigue and a low appetite.
But, as symptoms grow and become more severe, you could experience:
- Yellowing eyes and skin
- Abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting
- Joint and muscle pain
- Abnormal urine
- Abnormal bowel movements
Who should get tested for Hepatitis C?
To screen for hepatitis C, a blood sample is used.
The CDC recommends the following screening guidelines for hepatitis C:
- Women (including pregnant women): Women born between 1945-1965; other women if risk factors are present
- Men: Men born between 1945-1965; other men if risk factors are present
- Men Who have Sex With Men (MSM): MSM born between 1945-1965; annual HCV testing in MSM with HIV infection, other MSM if risk factors are present
- Persons with HIV: Serologic testing at initial evaluation, annual HCV testing
Test Smartly Labs can help if you need to test for hepatitis C or any other STD.