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Living with Hep C FAQ
What can I do to stay healthy?
There are many things you can do to help you and your liver stay healthy:
- If you can’t quit using tobacco, drugs or alcohol, try to reduce the amount you use – they are very hard on your liver.
- Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B so your hep C doesn't get worse.
- Reduce your stress level. Take a break when you need one.
- Get light or moderate exercise to keep fit and give you energy.
- Maintain regular sleeping hours and get enough rest.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables low in fat and sodium.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
- Practice safer sex.
- Maintain friendships and social contacts.
- Join a hep C support group.
- Visit your healthcare provider for regular check-ups.
Is there only one type of hepatitis C?
No there isn’t. There are 6 different types or strains of hepatitis C, called genotypes, and you can have more than one type at the same time. Therefore, since not everyone has the same type of hep C, you still need to protect yourself from getting another strain.
Are natural herbs and supplements a safe way to treat hep C symptoms?
Although herbs and other supplements may seem appealing, a number of them actually cause more harm to your liver, leading to even more severe liver damage and possibly death. It is because of this that HCV positive people are advised to talk to a health care provider before experimenting with any types of herbs.
Can I get treatment for hep C?
Yes, current treatment is the best it's ever been. Hep C is treated by taking two medications: peg-interferon (a weekly injection) and ribavirin (a daily pill).
How long does hep C treatment take?
Treatment length depends on the type of hep C you have. With genotypes 1, 4, 5, and 6, treatment length is 48 weeks - approximately one year. With genotypes 2 and 3 treatment length is 24 weeks, or approximately six months.
Can I become re-infected with hepatitis C after clearing the virus with treatment?
Yes. Treatment does not provide immunity to the hepatitis C virus.
What is the difference between acute and chronic hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis C is when someone gets rid of her/his hepatitis C infection within six months or less. After that, the virus is no longer in the blood. This occurs in about 15-25% of people. No one knows why this happens or who it will happen to. Chronic hepatitis C is when someone has the virus for more than six months. Most people, 75-85%, have this type. To see if a person has acute or chronic hepatitis C, a second test, the RNA test, may be done after she/he tests positive through the initial hepatitis C antibody test.
I have chronic hepatitis C – now what?
It is important not to let hepatitis C take over your life. Try to maintain a positive attitude and remember that you are not alone. Natural feelings that people go through after finding out they have hepatitis C include denial, anger, frustration, depression, guilt, bargaining and acceptance. Everyone deals with his/her diagnosis differently. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor and take steps to live a healthy lifestyle. Support groups are available.
- hepcinfo.ca - Canada's resource in English and French for hepatitis C information
- Hepatitis C Advocate
- Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program (OHRDP)
- Harm Reduction Works