About hep C
Could you be one of the thousands of New Zealanders who are living with hep C?
What is Hepatitis C?
HEPATITIS MEANS INFLAMMATION OF THE LIVER
When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. The liver performs many vital functions, including removal of waste products, controlling bleeding, digesting food and storing energy.
Hepatitis C (hep C) is inflammation of the liver that results from infection with the hep C virus.
Hep C can be spread through blood-to-blood contact. This is when blood from a person with hep C comes into contact with another person’s blood.
Who is at Risk of Hepatitis C?
Infection can occur if you’ve been tattooed or had a body piercing with equipment that has not been sterilised, if you had a blood transfusion in New Zealand before 1992 or, if you’ve shared needles for injecting drugs – even once. However, hep C can be transmitted in many other ways too and it’s common for people not to notice any symptoms.
Many people with hep C do not have symptoms and therefore don’t know they are infected. If symptoms occur, they may be non-specific and can include feeling tired, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, not wanting to eat, joint pain, fever, jaundice (yellow colour in the skin or eyes) and depression. Because most people who live with hep C have no symptoms and are not aware that they are infected, over many years the virus can cause damage to the liver which can lead to serious health problems.
The only way to know if you have hep C is to get tested.
There are a variety of places you can get tested – some GPs, pharmacies, kaupapa Māori health providers and needle exchanges. Also at mobile services and pop-up clinics. Visit the Stick it to hep C website to find out where you can get tested in your area. This will usually be a finger prick hep C antibody test, which can tell if you’ve ever been infected with the virus. You will get the results in minutes. If this test is positive, a hep C virus RNA test will tell if you have a current infection and need treatment.
It is important to follow up with your healthcare professional about these tests after they are performed.
The AbbVie hep C information website tells you more about hep C, how and where you can get tested, and has a checklist you can complete and take to your doctor or other healthcare professional if you think you have any of the risk factors or symptoms.
The good news
98% of people who take MAVIRET† as directed and who are new to treatment can expect to be cured* of their hepatitis C (hep C), meaning that the hep C virus has been cleared from the body.