Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hepatitis and how little we know

I was shocked and saddened to hear on the news the other day that Dame Anita Roddick has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
It just goes to show how little we know about it when part of the shock is that she has had it since 1971 (via a blood transfusion) and was only diagnosed two years ago. She now has cirrhosis of the liver.
A lot of people out there think of Russell Harty when they read about the illness, although he was not the only well known person to have had hepatitis. Brian May and, tragically, Matthew Garber (the boy in the Mary Poppins film) also had the disease. In both cases they were diagnosed some time after contracting hepatitis.
The illness can be transmitted through blood transfusion, contaminated food, sexual contact, and (in some unique cases) alcoholism. Hopefully this latest news will help encourage awareness of an awful and sometimes fatal disease.


PeachStatePam said...

Hepatitis C is only transmitted blood to blood. Alcoholic cirrhosis is not hepatitis and there are a number of other diseases that can also lead to cirrhosis that are not hepatitis. Hepatitis C is a virus and is not transmitted via food either. That is Hepatitis A (or in some countries Hepatitis E) There are many types of Hepatitis with many different risk factors depending on the type. Hepatitis C is ONLY TRANSMITTED with blood to blood contact. Just wanted to clarify for anyone reading you blog :-) You are very right though that it IS a major problem in many countries that is largely going unnoticed. Since the liver is a noncomplaining organ people can have the virus from 20 to 30 years before they start getting symptoms.

You are at risk for Hep C and should be TESTED if you:

* received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before July 1992
* were notified that you received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C.
* have ever injected illegal drugs, even if you experimented only one time many years ago (or snorted any drugs)
* were a recipient of clotting factor(s) made before 1987
* have ever been on long-term kidney dialysis
* have had tattoos or body piercings
* had sexual activity that involved contact with blood
* have had vaccinations administered with pneumatic jet injectors
* are a veteran
* have shared razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, tweezers, etc. with an infected person
* are a health care worker exposed to needle sticks or first responders
* also 5%-10% of babies born to infected mothers will get Hepatitis C
* have ever been incarcerated


Paul Burgin said...

Thanks for that. A bit scary, but I appreciate that's partly because we don't know enough about the diesase

PeachStatePam said...

Your welcome. I just try to educate and advocate wherever I can because there are so many misconceptions about Hepatitis C and most people don't know the differences in all the Hepatitis's. I was also sorry to read that another celeb was stricken but am very glad she came forward. If more and more of the celebs will come forward with their disease it will greatly help to educate the public. We are really an unrecognized epidemic and no one seems to be paying attention. We have the label of an IV drug users disease much the same as HIV started out as a gay disease. We need to overcome that. It is going to be a rough haul I am afraid. These are a couple of good links to read about the differences.

Take care.