Hepatitis C is generally considered to be the most serious of all of the hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis C is broken into two categories: acute hepatitis C and chronic hepatitis C. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2013, there were 29,718 cases of acute hepatitis C in the United States, and that an estimated 3.5 million people have chronic hepatitis C.
These numbers are sure to cause alarm in the active dating population, so it’s imperative that you know your status and know the status of your potential partners - a dating model that is the heart of the SeroMatch community.
What Is the Difference Between Chronic and Acute Hepatitis C?
Acute hepatitis C refers to a short-term infection that occurs within six months of an individual being exposed to the virus. For the majority of people, acute hepatitis C will develop into chronic hepatitis C. As its name implies, chronic hepatitis C is a long-term condition that can lead to serious liver complications.
How Hepatitis C Is Spread
Unlike many other types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), hepatitis is a virus, not a bacterial infection. This means that it cannot be spread through touch or genital contact alone; rather, the bodily fluids of an infected person must be passed to a non-infected person in order for the virus to spread. Most commonly, hepatitis C is spread by sharing needs or syringes to inject illegal drugs, or to a baby who is born to a mother with hepatitis C. However, it can also be spread by having sex with a person who is infected with the hepatitis C virus. The risk of spreading hepatitis C via sex is low, but increases for those who have HIV, have sex with multiple partners, or who have another sexually transmitted disease.
Complications of Hepatitis C
There are many complications related to contracting hepatitis C. For non-pregnant persons, the biggest risk is liver damage. To be sure, hepatitis C significantly increases a person’s risk of liver damage, including cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of liver tissues), liver cancer, and liver failure.
For women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and have hepatitis C, there are risks to the unborn child. While only about six of every 100 babies born to mothers with hepatitis C will contract the virus themselves, if the virus is contracted by the newborn, the child’s own body may eradicate the virus on its own in some circumstances, according to the American Liver Foundation. In others, the child may develop liver complications. A six-percent chance is far from insignificant.
Protecting Yourself Against Hepatitis C
Up to 80 percent of persons who have hepatitis C never have any symptoms. For those who do show symptoms, these include fever, fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, jaundice, dark urine, and joint pain.
The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis C is to avoid intravenous drugs and to always have protected sex. If you think that you may have hepatitis C, SeroMatch offers discreet, accurate Web-based hepatitis C testing.
If you are not in a monogamous relationship and are pursuing other partners, you can also protect yourself by ensuring that your future partners have a clean bill of health. At SeroMatch, you can join a responsible dating community of singles and know the status of your potential sex partners before things get physical.