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Woman told she was dying from liver cirrhosis shares importance of hepatitis C testing

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 7:56 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Hepatitis C, or hep C, is a viral infection that can cause chronic inflammation and scarring in the liver, leading to long-term health problems. Chronic hep C is also the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States. But that’s not the only reason the virus is considered a major public health problem. Among 2.3 million people living in the United States with hep C, 40% don’t even know they have it.

Many people who are infected with chronic hep C don’t experience symptoms or have non-specific symptoms, like chronic fatigue. They can be asymptomatic for several decades. And someone infected with the virus can spread it whether they have symptoms or not.

Karen, a hep C survivor and advocate for the community, didn’t feel any symptoms of her hep C until after a bike ride, when her feet became numb and her body was swollen. The following day she was admitted to the hospital with liver failure and ultimately was diagnosed with hep C. Karen eventually felt empowered by the knowledge of her diagnosis and decided to take the step to treat her hep C.

There are many factors which could lead a patient to refrain from getting tested for hep C. These may include stigma, not experiencing symptoms, lack of access to treatment or fear of side effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends one-time testing for all adults over 18 years of age, pregnant women during each pregnancy and those younger than 18 if at risk.

Since May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to discuss the importance of getting tested for the infection and find out more about its symptoms.

On Wednesday, Karen joined Sunrise 7 to discuss hep C. She is a patient advocate and has partnered with organizations like the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease on a COVID-19 subcommittee. Karen understands that treating or even getting tested for the hep C virus while facing the COVID-19 virus may not feel like a priority, but COVID-19 and hep C both need to be taken seriously.

For more information visit https://www.hepc.com/

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