Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Rapid Progression and Spreading Of Hepatitis C

It was only in 1989 that Hepatitis C was given its official name. Prior to that, scientists were unsure whether it was in any way different from other forms of Hepatitis, and so for a long time it was referred to only as non-A or non-B Hepatitis. Hepatitis C is a serious infection that is transmitted via blood-to-blood contact, and at current estimates it's believed around 4 million people in the United States alone have Hepatitis C, with around 170 million people around the world infected.

It's certainly an unusual disease, because many people who have it don't experience any symptoms. As many as seventy percent of sufferers fall into this category, which means it's extremely difficult to diagnose. The first six months are known as the acute stage, and it's estimated that around twenty five percent of infected people actually recover spontaneously during this period, for no apparent reason. This is called spontaneous viral clearance.

The fact that many people don't have symptoms and also recover spontaneously actually makes it very difficult to get an accurate estimate of the number of people who've contracted Hepatitis C. It could in fact be much higher. Still, it's believed that of the people who contract Hepatitis C virus, seventy five percent don't recover, and for them the condition becomes chronic. Without testing the whole population on the off chance of finding evidence of Hepatitis C, it's impossible to be more accurate.

In the past, many doctors recommended having no treatment at all for Hepatitis C during the early, acute stage. More recent studies, however, have shown that just hoping that Hepatitis C will disappear spontaneously isn't the best option. In fact, with treatment, recovery success rates of up to ninety percent have been achieved. Also, recovery time is often halved.

Once the acute period has passed, if the Hepatitis C virus is still present it's considered to have become a chronic infection. Around 30 percent of the sufferers of chronic Hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis of the liver in around twenty years time. Another third will take as long as thirty years, and the remainder will usually die of other causes before any cirrhosis is present.

Around 150,000 new cases of Hepatitis C are diagnosed each year in the United States. It's extremely common in people who also have HIV, probably because they are both transmitted in a similar manner. Approximately 70 percent of intravenous drug users also have Hepatitis C.

For now, research is continuing to find a way of controlling this chronic infection. There is not vaccine currently available, unlike for Hepatitis A and B. Recently there have been some positive results coming from the research, leading to clinical trials of a vaccine with human subjects. The success rates have been good, so there may be hope for the future. Until then, the research will continue.

About the author :

By Tim Gorman For more information and Hepatitis C facts please visit where you will quickly and easily find a variety of tips, advice and resources on Hepatitis C to include Hepatitis C treatment options.

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