10 Hep C Myths and Facts

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Unlike Pegasus, the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, hepatitis C is very real. However, there are a lot of myths about hepatitis C that aren't rooted in any kind of scientific facts. Because knowledge is power, we're here to give you the reality behind many of the hepatitis C smokescreens out there!

Myth: Hepatitis C is a death sentence.

Fact: Receiving any kind of health diagnosis often makes one confront his or her mortality. People may believe a hepatitis C diagnosis means death -- and a quick one. However, research shows that only a small number of people will experience serious liver disease progression. Even before we had highly effective hepatitis C drugs, hepatitis C was not a terminal illness for most diagnosed people. And, in the age of the hepatitis C cure, there is no reason that a person needs to die from hepatitis C.

Myth: There is no cure for hepatitis C.

Fact: Hepatitis C is curable, especially the earlier it is detected. While curing hepatitis C has been a rigorous, sometimes dangerous and often unsuccessful journey for many years, new highly effective hepatitis C drugs are able to cure hepatitis C much more easily and quickly.

Myth: There is no test for hepatitis C.

Fact: There is a 20-minute rapid test to detect the hepatitis C virus. All you need is a saliva or blood sample!

Myth: There's a hepatitis C vaccine.

Fact: There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. However, there are vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and getting those vaccines can help your liver be healthier. Speak to your care provider about hepatitis A and B vaccination.

Myth: You can get hepatitis C from casual contact.

Fact: Hepatitis C is a bloodborne disease that is transmitted when the blood of a person living with hepatitis C meets the blood of someone who is hepatitis C negative. Casual contact such as hugging, kissing and massage do not put a person at risk for hepatitis C.

Myth: Hepatitis C is rare.

Fact: Over 3.2 million Americans are living with hepatitis C -- that's 1% of the population. African Americans, people over 50, people living in poverty, people who inject drugs and the incarcerated or formerly incarcerated are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C.

Myth: I can't get hepatitis C from sexual intercourse.

Fact: Though very rare, there are many documented cases of hepatitis C transmission and acquisition from sexual intercourse, [[particularly among gay men living with HIV http://www.thebody.com/content/75876/sex-and-hepatitis-c-what-are-the-risks.html]]. Using a condom during sexual intercourse is the best way to stop hepatitis C transmission. While sexual transmission is possible, the most common way to get hepatitis C is by sharing needles or injecting drugs. Just because someone has hepatitis C does not mean he or she should not engage in sexual activity.

Myth: Hepatitis C always just affects the liver.

Fact: While hepatitis C primarily affects the liver, it can affect other body parts and some people can develop rheumatic diseases affecting the muscles and joints. Also, people with hepatitis C are at increased risk for diabetes and thyroid problems. People with hepatitis C should speak with their provider and get regular screenings for the aforementioned conditions.

Myth: Hepatitis C only affects drug users.

Fact: While people who use injection drugs are at increased risk for hepatitis C, there are a host of factors behind hepatitis C risk. Usually, with any illness, when someone says "only these type of people get this illness," there's a healthy dose of stigma and misinformation involved. We all have livers, and they are all at risk. However, some groups, as mentioned before, are at increased risk for hepatitis C. As such, it is best practice to get tested for hepatitis C regularly.

Myth: I'll know if I have hepatitis C by the symptoms.

Fact: Some people with hepatitis C experience symptoms, but the majority have no noticeable symptoms for years, which is why testing regularly for hepatitis C is so important. Some symptoms of acute and chronic hepatitis C include fever, nausea, grey-colored stool, dark urine, jaundice, abdominal pain and pain in your joints or muscles.