Hepatitis C (Hep C) Norton Infectious Diseases Institute

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Norton Infectious Diseases Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, is devoted to treating and curing patients with hepatitis C. Viral hepatitis slowly attacks the liver, so patients typically don’t have symptoms. Hepatitis C patients are at very high risk for liver cancer.

As part of Norton Infectious Diseases Institute , the infectious diseases specialists at the Norton Infectious Diseases Specialists practice have the experience to give you a precise diagnosis and develop a customized treatment plan that may be able to cure your hepatitis C.

The treatments used to cure hepatitis C are called direct-acting antivirals. When taken as prescribed, these direct-acting antivirals typically have a 98% overall cure rate.

Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious liver conditions, including fibrosis (scarring of the liver), cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

Norton Infectious Diseases Institute offers a special treatment plan for pregnant mothers, in conjunction with patients’ OB/GYN, to make sure mom and baby receive the care they need.

Hepatitis C Symptoms

Chronic viral hepatitis, most commonly in the forms of hepatitis A (usually a short-term virus only), hepatitis B or hepatitis C, typically has no symptoms for many years. Even though the virus is silent, it is actively damaging the liver.

Few people with a hepatitis C infection feel ill while the virus is in their bodies. The symptoms tend to be mild and flu-like. Many people with a newly acquired hepatitis C infection tend to be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that are unlikely to prompt a visit to a health care professional. Fatigue is the most common symptom of an infection with hepatitis C virus, also known as HCV.

When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

Symptoms of Chronic Liver Disease

  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising easily
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech
  • Spiderlike blood vessels on the skin 

Hepatitis C typically spreads only through contact with infected blood. Most people become infected with hepatitis C through sharing needles or other injection-related equipment. Hepatitis B, however, can spread through any bodily fluid carrying viral hepatitis. There is a vaccine for hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is administered with two or three doses after age 19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal hepatitis C screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults age 18 and over, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection (HCV RNA positivity) is less than 0.1%. This is a simple blood test. Hepatitis C testing is conducted during at least one prenatal visit in Kentucky.

A lab test, HCV RNA, measures the amount of hepatitis C virus in the bloodstream. This test delivers a very precise number, often called the viral load, that helps determine whether or not you have an active hepatitis C infection indicating treatment is needed, and also measures the effectiveness of treatment. 

Risk Factors

According to the CDC, those with an increased risk for hepatitis C infection include: 

  • People with HIV infection
  • Those who inject drugs currently or have at anytime in the past
  • People who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
  • People who received a blood transfusion or transfusion of blood components before July 1992
  • People who received an organ transplant before July 1992
  • Anyone notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection
  • Health care, emergency medical services and public safety personnel after needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures to hepatitis C virus-positive blood
  • Children born to mothers with HCV infection

What to Expect From Hepatitis C Treatment

At Norton Infectious Diseases Institute, we take a comprehensive approach to treating your hepatitis C. Treatment plans typically consist of around four to five appointments in total through the entire treatment process. While each treatment plan can vary, these are the typical steps:

Our specialists will start your treatment plan by gathering your medical history and may include blood tests. They will order a painless, noninvasive scan to determine the health of your liver.

After the scan you will follow-up in the clinic, where you will receive your results from the lab and scan testing, and details on the recommended hepatitis C treatment. You will see a pharmacist from Norton Specialty Pharmacy to discuss the specific treatment that will be ordered for you and they will walk you through the process for getting your medication. Treatment is in tablet form and usually lasts eight to 12 weeks. If you have been treated for hepatitis C before, your treatment may vary.

Norton Specialty Pharmacy will contact you for a consultation to discuss your medications, go over how to take them and possible side effects, and provide answers to your questions. Patients typically receive their treatment in two to three days once delivery is set up. Your treatment is sent to you through a carrier service at no charge to you, or if you prefer you can pick it up.

A follow-up visit with labs is required after completing four weeks of treatment.

Finally, once you have completed treatment, you will return for a blood test 12 weeks after your last dose of treatment, to confirm that the hepatitis C virus is gone. If you’re pregnant or nursing, your care plan may be different. Learn more about our pregnancy and hepatitis C program.

Norton Infectious Diseases Specialists

Children’s Hospital Foundation Building
601 S. Floyd St., Suite 604
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 446-6434

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