What is HVC Treatment?
Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection that is contracted by coming into contact with even small amounts of infected blood. Sharing needles, sharing syringes, needle sticks, sharing razors and toothbrushes, or reusing tattoo and piercing equipment can all possibly transmit Hepatitis C.
Though not normally thought of as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), Hepatitis C is also most easily transmitted through unprotected anal sex. Any activity that may damage the lining of the anal cavity (like fisting, or rough sex) leaves microscopic tears that act as portals of entry for the hepatitis virus. When you protect yourself from HIV through barrier’d sexual activity and using fresh, clean needles for IV drugs, you are also protecting yourself from Hepatitis C. People living with HIV are more likely to have been exposed to people with Hepatitis C than people who are HIV negative.
Since Hepatitis often shows no symptoms, it is important to get tested regularly as part of your health hygiene routine. Others may get flu-like symptoms and later clear the virus on their own. Others go on to develop a chronic hepatitis C infection which can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated.
What does treatment entail?
At ASHwell, we treat Hepatitis C holistically, facilitated in conjunction with other forms of lifestyle support. Before treating HCV, you must be on treatment for Hepatitis B and HIV, otherwise you risk reactivating your Hepatitis B infection.
- Medication + medical schedule: Your healthcare provider will work collaboratively with you to find the right medication regimen for you. Hepatitis C medication regimens have evolved from expensive and dangerous injections to once-a-day pills that can cure about 90% of people in 8 to 12 weeks
- Clients who request services for Hepatitis C will be screened to see if they qualify for treatment. Clients with insurance are prioritized. Once you are approved, you will be contacted to do labs and start treatment.
- If you do not have insurance, you will be further screened to see if you qualify to enroll in a marketplace health plan through the Affordable Care Act. If you do not meet the guidelines for the ACA, you will be placed on a waiting list and you will have to wait to be contacted in the order you were placed on the list. If you have Medicaid or Veteran’s Assistance (VA), you will be referred to an appropriate provider.
When should you get tested for HCV?
You should be tested for HCV at least once per year. Typically your provider will order a qualitative test to determine the presence of the hepatitis virus in your blood. If it comes back positive, your provider will likely order a quantitative test to see the number of viral copies in your blood--how much of the virus is inside your body. Unlike Hepatitis A and B, you won’t develop immunity with Hep C and you can get reinfected.
You should get tested more than once per year if you have sex with new partners often, have condomless anal sex, engage in group sex, or have fun with recreational injectable drugs.