Hepatitis C

A simplified diagram of the Hepatitis C virus ...

Replication cycle of the Hepatitis C virus

Once known as Hepatitis Non A Non B, Hepatitis C has been discussed a great deal in the using community over the last 20 years. Here, BP goes behind the ‘Hep C test’ where many of us once stopped, discovering why further tests are so important in getting to the bottom of your own Hep C diagnosis. There is a lot to know about when it comes to your own virus and then can be even more to consider when it comes to deciding if and when you’re going to start treatment. Especially, when, in 2015 we stand at the helm of a whole range of very effective HCV drugs and the word ‘cure’ is on every pharmaceutical companies lips.

In the last issue, BP ‘introduced’ the liver, briefly discussing what it does and how it does it. This issue, we want to look more closely at a virus that has affected the livers of an estimated 215,000 – 600,000 people in the UK alone, 170 million people worldwide with some 3 million more joining the global ranks each year. BP wanted to find some straightforward answers to some essential questions on Hepatitis C and what you may want to consider if you have been diagnosed Hep C (HCV) positive. (BP will look into treatments for HCV next issue).

Hepatitis C is?…

The actual word “hepatitis’ means inflammation or swelling of the liver. This can be caused by chemicals, drugs, drinking too much alcohol or by different kinds of viruses. Hepatitis C is just one of a number of hepatitis viruses (including A, B,D, E, G) and they are all completely different from one another. It can be hard to get your bead around just how small viruses really are. HCV is estimated to be 80 nanometers in diameter (around 30 billion would fit on this dot {,} – another reason why handwashing before and after injecting is so important; be especially vigilant if someone injects you after they’ve just had a hit – they could have microscopic particles of blood on their fingers and then may place them on your injection site. HCV is known to be remain active outside the body for some time so wash your hands and tell others to wash theirs! The hepatitis C virus is in fact a group of viruses, similar enough to be called HCV virus, yet different enough to be classified into subgroups.

Genotypes

Several families of hepatitis C have been observed around The world and these are known as genotypes, because they differ in their genetic make up. They arc usually classified as HCV genotype 1 ,or 2, or 3, etc. Some genotypes respond better to treatment than others so it is important to identify your genotype when considering treatment for Hep C..

Subtypes

Within each genotype, there are subtypes. These are classified as HCV subtype la, or Ib, Ic, etc and within a subtype, incredibly minute differences will exist among individual viruses, called quasispecies – several million quasispecies would exist within a subtype.

To read the rest of this BP article, and find out how Hep C can affect you, click here.

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