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Hepatitis C

Travel Guide Travel Health Hepatitis C

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Introduction

Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and affects the liver. The virus is transmitted from human to human through several means including shared needles, tattoos/body piercings, blood transfusions and medical/dental procedures. It is not usually transmitted through sexual contact though some risk still does exist. If left untreated, (chronic) Hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. An estimated 170 million people around the world have been infected with HCV. Eqypt has the highest prevalency rate (>15%) while countries in Africa and Asia account for an additional 15% of the infected population. Among travelers, the sharing of drug paraphenalia (needles/syringes), tattooing/piercings and medical procedures account for the greatest number of HCV infections.[1][2]

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Prevention

  • Do not share personal items such as razors or toothbrushes.
  • Know the status of any sexual partner whenever possible.
  • Use latex or polyurethane condoms during all types of sexual encounters including oral. Do not use lambskin or other "natural" condoms as they do not protect against STDs.
  • Avoid tattooing and/or body piercings.
  • Avoid recreational intravenous drug use or use only sterile needles and syringes.*[1][3]

*This precautionary statement is made only for the purpose of preventing HCV transmission and is not one condoning the use of recreational drugs.

Pre-exposure Vaccinations

NO pre or post-exposure vaccines are available.[1]

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Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms

Approximately 80% of infected patients will not develop symptoms of the disease at any point in time. Those who do may experience mild flu-like manifestations which can include mild fatigue, poor appetite, muscle/joint pain, dusky urine, jaundice and tenderness around the area of the liver. A chronic infection of Hepatitis C occurs in 75-85% of patients and 60-70% will develop chronic liver disease.

Treatment

NO specific treatment is available for HCV. Patients with chronic infections may be treated with anti-viral medications.[1][4]

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This is version 6. Last edited at 19:39 on May 13, 08 by Hien. 1 article links to this page.

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