2.8 min readBy Published On: October 18th, 2013Categories: News0 Comments

In South Boston

According to the Boston Public Health Commission Infectious Disease Bureau South Boston is one of three neighborhoods with the largest rates of Hepatitis C in the city, along with Charlestown and East Boston.  South Boston has an alarming high rate of Hepatitis C among our youths ages 15-24 years old. 

Know the facts and protect yourself. 

What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is an infection with the hepatitis C virus that can cause the liver to swell. Most people who are infected with hepatitis C cannot clear the infection on their own and are infected for many years without knowing it. Over time, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage.

How does hepatitis C spread?
The hepatitis C virus is spread when blood or other body fluids containing blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can happen through sharing needles and items like toothbrushes and razors or when infected blood enters through a cut in the skin. Although not common, this virus can be spread by sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
Some people will have no symptoms. If symptoms appear, they develop as soon as 14 days or as long as 180 days after exposure to the virus and can include :

How serious is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C infection can be very serious for some people. Most people who get hepatitis C will carry the virus for the rest of their lives unless they receive special medications. Persons with hepatitis C can have liver damage but not feel sick from the disease. Some persons with liver damage due to hepatitis C may develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver failure, which often takes many years to develop. Others have no long-term effects.

You should get tested for hepatitis C if:

  • You were treated for clotting problems with a blood product made before 1987.
  • You received a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before July 1992, or you were ?notified that you received blood that possibly contained hepatitis C.
  • You were ever on long-term kidney dialysis.
  • You shared used tattooing or body piercing needles. ?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends hepatitis C testing for anyone born from 1945 through 1965. ?BPHC Fact Sheet: Hepatitis C (English) Continued May 2013
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Tiredness
  • Dark brown urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Grey-colored stools (feces)

How can I prevent hepatitis C?

  • Injection drug users can lower their risk by not sharing needles or equipment (including cotton, filters, caps, spoons, cookers and alcohol swabs). Treatment is available to help injection drug users stop. Individuals who snort drugs should not share straws.
  • If you have hepatitis C, do not donate your blood, body organs, or other tissue or sperm.
  • If you have hepatitis C, do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care articles ?that might have your blood on them.
  • Cover any open cuts or sores.
  • Always use a condom during sex.
  •  Healthcare staff and custodial staff in hospitals or places where needles or sharps are used ?should follow standard (universal) precautions for every patient.

For more information, please contact:
Boston Public Health Commission Infectious Disease Bureau – http://www.bphc.org/PROGRAMS/INFECTIOUSDISEASE/Pages/Home.aspx