2.3.0 It’s Not All In Your Head!
Some doctors (but thankfully fewer than there used to be) insist on believing that HCV usually has no symptoms, and dismiss the patient’s complaints as being “all in their head.”
Some HCV+ patients have been treated for depression for many years before their actual diagnosis of HCV was uncovered. Much is still unknown about the hepatitis C virus, and many physicians have not had much experience treating it. Many doctors are not yet familiar with the research which legitimizes the various symptoms which go along with this virus.
Emerging illnesses such as HCV typically go through a period of many years before they are accepted by the medical community, and during that interim time patients who have these new, unproven symptoms are all too often dismissed as being “psychiatric cases.” This has been the experience with HCV as well.
Over fifty-nine percent of people infected with hepatitis C will remain infected for life, but among those with genotype 1b, that figure zooms up to 92%. Up to half of those people will develop cirrhosis, scarring of the liver, and up to 10,000 will die this year, say doctors and disease trackers meeting in San Diego. The latest findings are sobering because about 1.4% of the U.S. population is infected with the virus - “Hepatitis C Chronic 75% of the Time”, USA Today, 05-15-1995
Approximately 85% of people infected with HCV will develop chronic hepatitis; ultimately, 20-30% of those will progress to cirrhosis. (JAMA Vol. 284 No. 4, July 26, 2000). Another 20-30% may develop chronic HCV infection without abnormal elevations of liver enzymes in the blood. - “Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of Viral Hepatitis”, AMA
Progression of the disease depends on several factors: mode of transmission (transfused victims usually progress faster), age at transmission (people infected older progress faster), gender (men usually progress faster than women) and alcohol use, and coinfection with other viruses such as HBV, HAV or HIV.
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