To Dance With A Dragon
INFORMATION AND LINKS
Hepatitis is a disease (or range of diseases) characterized by inflamation of the liver. Viral hepatitis refers to several common diseases caused by a virus that can lead to swelling and tenderness of the liver.
The most common types identified are
which can lead to serious, chronic, permanent liver damage, transplant, cancer and even death. There are other forms that are less common;
as well as other less known viruses such as
According to the CDC, about 30,000 cases of Hepatitis C occur each year, with estimates of up to 5,000,000 cases currently in the US alone. This disease can be considered in epidemic proportions. The vast majority of cases become chronic. Chronic Hepatitis C can lead to inflammation of the liver, cause fibrosis, lead to cirhosis, can cause liver damage and
and eventually untreated lead to death. Unlike a cold or flu, once infected with Hepatitis C,you are not immune. You will carry this disease for your whole life. There is no vaccine for HCV, and the hepatitis A and B vaccines do not provide immunity against hepatitis C. They are all very separate diseases and are treated differently.
About 10,000 people a year die from complications caused by Hepatitis C, and that number is rising! It is the leading cause of liver transplant in the United States. It is now thought that Hepatitis kills more than 4 times the amount of people infected with HIV/AIDS alone. And with the current tragedy in this country, and the amount of people donating blood - the number of confirmed cases could easily rise again.
SPREAD OF THE DISEASE
Hepatitis C IS NOT spread by casual contact such as sneezing, shaking hands, or using the toilet after an infected person. The Hepatitis C virus CANNOT pass through intact skin. It is spread primarily through blood to blood contact. Documented transfers include blood transfusions, tatoos, organ transplants, shared drug IV needles, body piercing, accidental needlestick from an infected person, and improperly sterilized medical equipment and procedures such as a
COLONOSCOPY. Any invasive technique to the body is as risk for contamination.
The CDC estimates at least 40% of cases documented are of "Unknown Origin". In extremely rare cases, there may be an extreme possibility during sexual contact(from blood to blood as in open sores, or possibly even menstral blood, (NOT in semen or other body fluids)), but no documented cases have been proven.
A QUIET KILLER
Most people with Hepatitis B or C do not have any recognizable signs or symptoms that they can become aware of. You may feel perfectly healthy, but in fact still be infected and are able to infect others. At the onset of the virus, there may be an "accute" phase where the person becomes extremely ill with a flu-like attack, but will get better and carry on without knowledge of the virus being present unless being tested. The virus itself gives no symptoms until the liver starts becoming affected, at which time the disease is classed as 'chronic'. The signs and symptoms of liver disease will probably show up before you become aware you even have a disease. Elevated liver enzymes called AST/ALT's are a good indication that something is wrong, but does not tell you how the disease itself is progressing. You must have a specific Hepatitis C or B test, and then have a disease specific quantitive type test to see how many particles of the virus exist in your liver.
Many people do however experience flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, some nausea, fever, depresson, weakness and fatigue at the onset of Hepatitis C in the Acute phase. Other common symptoms are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyaligia like symptoms and even have a rheumatoid factor in your blood. Also abdominal pain is a very common symptom, although the liver itself has no pain receptors. Other symptoms may include jaundice or dark urine/lightened stool. There are also other lesser known diseases caused by the virus that you must be tested for specifically.
THE ONLY WAY TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE HEPATITIS IS THROUGH SPECIFIC BLOOD TESTS DESIGNED TO DETECT THE VIRUS ITSELF.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY BE OR HAVE BEEN AT RISK
GET A BLOOD TEST FROM YOUR DOCTOR.
Currently, the FDA-approved medication for the treatment of hepatitis C is the drug called INTERFERON, or INTERFERON coupled with an anti-viral called RIBAVIRIN. The combination therapy is called REBETRON. These drugs are taken through injections intra-muscularly and by pill form. About one-third to one-half of the those treated with this/these drugs have a fairly good response and go into 'remission'. The latest of these drugs is known as pegalated interferon - which is a time release form only taken once a week. There are several drug companies involved in hepatitis research, and put out a form of the drugs themselves.
This website is not for medical diagnosis, but to help make you aware of your own situation. If you think you may have been at risk at some point in your life, then you need to inform your doctor and have the appropriate blood tests drawn to determine if you are Hepatitis Positive, whether it be Hepatitis B, C or any other. It is also recommended that if you are Hepatitis C positive, that you get the immunity shots for Hepatitis A & B. Also be sure to check your 'titer' every several years as the immunity does have a tendancy to 'wear off'.
Even if you come up negative for any of the hepatitis virus's, it may be a good idea to have the immunity shots anyway. These diseases are so virulent and on the rise, we all need to be careful.
GET INFORMED . . . GET TESTED
There is a phenomenal amount of informational sites, organizations, links, personal web pages with other Hepatitis C sufferer's stories, journals, news, mail lists, chat rooms, mail lists and just a whole host of other kinds of information out on the web for your perusal if you are willing to look. Be A good disseminator of information. Check all your facts twice and then once again to be sure! Keep asking questions. Talk to your doctor, and if you want to - find another doctor and talk to them!
Hepatitis Organizations, Foundations and Home Page Links
Karen's Personal Monthly Journal (Ongoing)
Up To Date NewsWire, Entertainment and Disease Headlines
July 6, 1998: Army Times Article
The object of this page is to help cultivate awareness, and to ask you to go out and get tested if you think you might be in a high risk category, and to please ask you get informed about yourself, your disease, no matter who you are, or what your situation is, and try to get healthy before its too late.
NO ONE ELSE WILL DO IT FOR YOU!
YOU ARE YOU'RE OWN BEST ADVOCATE!
THIS PAGE IS ALWAYS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
Diagnostic Tests for Liver and Gall Bladder disorders
Biology of the liver
Please keep checking back, and if there is anything that you might like to see added to my page
. . . feel free to email me and let me know.
We Are All Valid. Every Feeling, Every Thought.
Links to Hepatitis sites on the Web
National Institutes of Health - Management of Hepatitis C
C.Everett Koop's Page on Hepatitis
National Library of Medicine
Center For Disease Control
Roche Home Page/Search Engine
Viragen Home Page RE: Omniferon
Schering-Plough - Health Care Homepage
Amgen's Compass Program. RE: Infergen
Please feel free to take a minute and e-mail me your comments about my web page.
I started and have been maintaining it since June 14, 1998.
It's helped me deal a great deal to live with my diagnosis of Hepatitis C on continuing basis.
© 1997 firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen - 1995
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SOME GOOD SITES TO VISIT
Hepatitis Foundation International
British Liver Trust (United Kingdom)
HepC Foundation's List of Liver Herbs
Our Deepest Fear
Links to Military Sites on the Web
United States Army Home Page
Vietnam Veterans of America
USUHS Uniformed Services University of Health Science
MWR Moral - Welfare - Recreation
Fort Stewart, GA Home Page
Department of Defense Home Page
Fort Drum Home Page
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