I have a friend who contracted the Hepatitis C virus years ago, and who is now suffering with liver cancer. He is unable to work, unable to function on a daily basis.

Hepatitis C is the number one cause for liver transplants. It puts patients at risk for cirrhosis of the liver as well as liver cancer.

It can be a relatively silent disease, as many people have no symptoms for years after contracting the virus. In many cases, these are people who are in their 50’s and 60’s, who often learn of their illness through a routine blood test and are shocked to hear they have the disease. Hep C is five times more prevalent in the United States than HIV/AIDS and kills almost 10,000 Americans annually.

What are the primary risk factors for Hepatitis C? Factors include the use of intravenous drugs – as well as intranasal administration of cocaine; promiscuous sex; blood transfusions; and exposure to tainted blood.

The good news is that recent advances in treatment have dramatically improved the success rate in eradicating the Hepatitis C virus from 50% to 80% of patients. The old standard of care has taken a major leap forward by adding directly acting antiviral agents to the body. Also, a new medication (a pill called Incivek) is given for 12 weeks in combination with the the old treatment (peginterferon and ribavirin), which is then continued for 36 more weeks.
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– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: jdmiller@homecarepartners.biz ; or online at: www.homecarepartnersma.com

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