Hep C Discussion Point

Question

What kind of testing have you had to determine if you have hepatitis C?

I have had a positive hepatitis C antibody screening test, but no confirmatory PCR (viral load).

I have had a positive hepatitis C antibody screening test with confirmatory PCR (viral load).

I do not know.

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The definition of a term can be seen here.

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Hepatitis C Antibody Screening Test (also called anti-HCV antibody test) – a test for antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the hepatitis C virus; the presence of anti-HCV antibodies indicate exposure to the hepatitis C virus but does not indicate whether the virus is currently present in the body; if the screening test is positive, another test (called a PCR or viral load test) is done to determine if a person is currently infected with the hepatitis C virus.

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Hepatitis A – a disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV); transmitted by food or drink that has been contaminated by an infected person; symptoms include nausea, fever, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes); a vaccine can be given to protect against hepatitis A infection.

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Hepatitis B – a disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV); transmitted sexually or by contact with infected blood; hepatitis B may progress to chronic hepatitis; a vaccine can be given to protect against hepatitis B infection.

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Environmental Toxins - substances in a person’s home, work, or living area that can cause damage to the human body; examples of these substances include benzene, carbon monoxide, carbon tetrachloride and other dry cleaning fluids, chlorine, dioxin, exhaust fumes, fluoride and fluorine, organophosphorous pesticides, paints, petroleum-based chemicals such as gasoline and diesel fuel, radioactive substances, and solvents.

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Body Mass Index (also called BMI) – a measure of whether a person’s body weight is proportional to his/her height; a measure of health body weight. BMI is calculated from your weight and height. Your BMI will be included in your report final results.

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Activity Level – Your activity level can include things other than traditional exercise. Anything that keeps your heart rate up over a period of time contributes to activity level. If you are active or exercise with an accelerate heart rate for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week, answer "Active." If your activity level is less than this, answer "Inactive."

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Anxiety - a medical condition marked by intense apprehension or fear of real or imagined danger.

Depression – a mental condition characterized by apathy, lack of emotional expression, social withdrawal, changes in eating and sleep patterns, and fatigue; a mental condition that can accompany any life-changing event including being diagnosed with a chronic illness; a possible side effect of interferon/ribavirin therapy.

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Respond "yes" if you drink any form of alcohol including beer, wine, wine coolers, and/or hard liquor. Answer "no" only if you never drink any beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages.

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Tobacco Products – includes cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco.

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Answer "no" only if you never smoke marijuana. Answer "yes" if you currently smoke marijuana, even if only occasionally.

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Street drugs include any substance that is not prescribed to you by a medical professional and is taken for recreational purposes such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, heroin, and unprescribed pain medications.

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The initial work up for hepatitis C should start with a complete history and physical examination, along with laboratory tests on blood and urine. Initial laboratory tests typically include:

HCV genotype, PT-INR, CBC with differential, TSH, urinalysis, iron, TIBC, ferritin, electrolytes, glucose (fasting blood sugar), BUN, creatinine, total protein, albumin, AST, ALT, Alk Phos, GGT, bilirubin, uric acid, cholesterol and triglycerides.

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Interferon-Based Therapy – any therapy that uses interferon as the main component; interferon-based therapy is currently the standard treatment of chronic hepatitis C in western (allopathic) medicine; trade names for interferon include Roferon-A®, Intron-A®, Rebetron®, Peg-Intron®, Pegasys®, and Infergen®.

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Interferon-Based Therapy – any therapy that uses interferon as the main component; interferon-based therapy is currently the standard treatment of chronic hepatitis C in western (allopathic) medicine; trade names for interferon include Roferon-A®, Intron-A®, Rebetron®, Peg-Intron®, Pegasys®, and Infergen®.

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Responder – a person whose level of hepatitis C virus becomes undetectable on interferon-based treatment.

Non-Responder– a person whose virus level does not drop to undetectable levels while on interferon-based treatment.

Relapse – the reappearance of the hepatitis C virus after it previously being undetectable in response to interferon-based treatment.

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Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver that has progressed to the point that the structure of the liver is abnormal; the stage of liver disease that follows if there is progressive fibrosis.

Ascites – abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen; a common complication of portal hypertension.

Esophageal Varix (pl. varices) – an abnormally dilated or swollen vein; portal hypertension can cause esophageal varices that can rupture and cause vomiting of large amounts of blood.

Portal Hypertension – increased blood pressure in the portal vein that brings blood into the liver; the increased pressure in the portal vein also causes increased pressure in the veins of the abdomen, intestines, stomach, and esophagus; portal hypertension causes many of the complications associated with liver cirrhosis.

Hepatic Encephalopathy – a complication of liver failure that results from large amounts of ammonia that accumulate in the brain; symptoms include euphoria, depression, confusion, slurred speech, abnormal sleeping patterns, incoherent speech, tremors, rigid muscles, and eventually coma.

Hepatorenal Syndrome - the development of kidney failure in patients with advanced chronic liver disease.

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Liver Failure – a state in which the liver is unable to adequately perform its many functions; usually the result of end-stage cirrhosis; characterized by clotting abnormalities, protein abnormalities, abnormal electrolytes, and many other signs and symptoms.

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A liver transplant evaluation is an extensive series of tests typically over a 2- to 3-day period. It involves visits with a transplant surgeon, a transplant hepatologist, transplant nurse coordinator, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a dietitian, a financial coordinator and other consultants as appropriate. The evaluation is to help you and your doctors decide whether a liver transplant is the best choice for you.

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Liver Biopsy – the removal and subsequent microscopic examination of small samples of liver tissue; performed by inserting a long needle through the skin into the liver to take the samples.

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Fibrosis – in liver disease, scar tissue in the liver.

Stage – the degree of fibrosis present on liver biopsy; the higher the stage, the more fibrosis present.

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Genotype – one of several different species of the hepatitis C virus; different genotypes have some differences in the genes they contain.

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Viral Load – the amount of hepatitis virus present in the blood.

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Interferon - trade names for interferon include Roferon-A®, Intron-A®, Rebetron®, Peg-Intron®, Pegasys®, and Infergen®.

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Relapse – the reappearance of the hepatitis C virus after it previously being undetectable in response to interferon-based treatment.

Non-Responder – a person whose virus level does not drop to undetectable levels while on interferon-based treatment.

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Contraindication – in medicine, a condition or other reason not to use a particular drug or treatment.

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Hep C Discussion Point™.  Copyright © 2008 by Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc.  All rights reserved.

No organization, group, business, or any other entity may use or reproduce any or all of the Hep C Discussion Point™ survey or the related outputs without prior written permission from the Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc.