(NC) Could you be one of the estimated 100,000 Canadians currently living with undiagnosed hepatitis C? The good news is that new, effective treatments can cure this debilitating illness that can wreak havoc on the liver. But you can only be cured if you get tested for the disease and start treatment to prevent further damage and improve long-term health. Get answers to your top questions here.
What is hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, leading to liver scarring, liver cancer, and ultimately death from liver failure. The disease often has no symptoms, meaning that undiagnosed patients can potentially transmit the virus to others through blood-to-blood contact without knowing.
How is it treated? Today’s hepatitis C drug therapies are very effective, easy to take and have few side effects. Treatment takes between eight to 24 weeks and can cure the majority of patients, including those with the most advanced disease.
Who should be tested? Canadians aged 41 to 71 born here and abroad are up to five times more likely to be infected than others. But a new survey from the Canadian Liver Foundation shows only a quarter of this group have been tested for the virus, while just seven per cent are even aware of their increased risk. That’s why it’s recommended that everyone in this age group learn about their increased risk and talk to their doctor about getting tested.
How do I get tested? Hepatitis C is diagnosed through a simple blood test covered by all provincial health care plans.
Learn more and take a hepatitis risk questionnaire in English, French, or Chinese at www.liver.ca/couldyouhaveit.