News from Hepatitis Week of June 22, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 25

Past Activities Key in Assessing Hepatitis C Risk

Individuals should look at the activities they engaged in 10 to 20 years ago to determine their risk of contracting hepatitis C, according to a non-profit hepatitis education and awareness organization.

Such activities, according to Thelma King Thiel, Hepatitis Foundation International founder and CEO, include sharing razors, toothbrushes or straws used in snorting cocaine, sharing needles during drug use, and having body piercing and tattoos done with contaminated needles. She added that hepatitis C can occasionally be transmitted through sex.

Awareness and education are essential to help bring this disease under control, said Thiel, who noted that 70 percent of those with hepatitis C show no signs or symptoms for many years, and thus are unaware of their infection.

Thiel emphasized that it is vitally important that those infected realize that drinking alcohol can accelerate damage to the liver, which, she added, is one of the most important reasons to be tested for hepatitis C.

"A damaged liver can affect energy, digestion, hormone balance, ability to ward of infections and recover from illnesses and many other vitally important body functions," Thiel added. "Hepatitis C is not a death sentence and can be treated. Renewed health is the goal. Participation in attaining that goal is the first step."

Other sources: Hepatitis Foundation International