Hepatitis Essay, Research Paper


For my final paper, I will do research on Hepatitis C for recognition targeted

towards technical publications as JAMA, New England Journal Of Medicine etc.

Hepatitis C (HCV) causes inflammation of the liver and can cause liver damage

leading to cirrhosis. Occasionally, liver cancer may develop. First called non-A

non-B hepatitis, hepatitis C was discovered in the early 1970?s, but it wasn?t until

1989 that testing for specific antibodies to the virus began. Each year, 15,000

Americans contract hepatitis C, which is a more frequent cause of chronic liver

disease than hepatitis B. While at least half of the patients with acute hepatitis C

become chronic, some estimate the rate as high as 80%.

Who is at risk?

People at risk include anyone who has had a blood transfusion, health care

workers (which we intend to be in the near future), I.V.(intravenous)drug users,

and hemodialysis patients.

How is HCV transmitted?

The virus is found in blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. It may be

transmitted via transfusion, sex, sharing razors, needles, toothbrushes, nail files or

even a barber?s scissors. All people with HCV are potentially infectious. As many

as 3.5 million people are believed to be carriers which means that they have the

virus in their system and whether they have symptoms or not, they can infect

others. Unlike hepatitis A and B, previous infection does not produce immunity.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C?

There is no vaccine for HCV and vaccines of other forms of hepatitis do not

provide immunity against hepatitis C.

What are the symptoms?

Most people infected with HCV do not have symptoms. Even if they have normal

liver function tests, they are called carriers. The virus is in their blood and can

cause damage to the liver. Carriers can transmit the virus to others. If symptoms

are present, they are usually mild and flu-like: nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite,

fever, headaches, and abdominal pain. Most do not have jaundice (yellowing of the

eyes), however, it can occur along with dark urine.

Is there a cure?

Few people are able to clear the virus from their blood, which is necessary, to be

completely recovered. Over half of the cases reported each year become chronic,

which means liver enzyme levels remain elevated for at least six months after the

acute infection.

What does chronic hepatitis mean?

Chronic HCV indicates a gradual progression of the disease over 10-40 years. A

liver biopsy can identify the type and degree and is the best method of determining

the severity of the disease. Patients with Chronic HCV have increased risk for

developing primary liver cancer. It is believed that 20% of these patients will

develop cirrhosis of the liver(damage to the liver), and another 25% will develop

liver failure after which death may occur.

Is there a treatment?

Treatment for chronic hepatitis C is limited. Currently, the only FDA approved

treatment is interferon alpha-2b. The treatment must be given by injection and it

may have a number of side-effects. Interferon may also interfere with the

production of white blood cells and platelets by depressing the bone marrow.


Murray, P.R. Medical microbiology Second Edition;1994

?Consensus on HCV testing and treatment?. Secaucus, NJ: Advanced

Therapeutics Communications. 1992 12p.

This publication is a bulletin from the National Hepatitis Detection and

Treatment Program (NHDTP), an educational program for physicians funded by

three medical manufacturing companies. Included are tables or charts summarizing

the reported data; I will use this to obtain Statistics on Hepatitis.

Maddrey, W.C. ?Chronic Hepatitis?. Disease-a-Month, Masters in Medicine.

39(2): 53-126. February 1993.

This monograph presents an overview of chronic hepatitis. Topics include a

classification of chronic hepatitis based on histologic manifestations: I will use this

to understand further the causes of the major disorder, its management and



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