Hepatitis is a medical term meaning inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can result from a variety of infectious (eg, hepatitis B and C viruses) and noninfectious causes (eg, alcohol abuse).
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, which infiltrates the liver and other tissues.1 The virus causes inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage. Manifestations of hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious lifelong disease that culminates in liver cirrhosis or cancer. In the United States, chronic hepatitis C has long been a leading cause of chronic liver disease and a top indication for liver transplantation. However, the advent of new, curative drugs offers the promise to significantly alter the public health impact of this disease.
Hepatitis C represents a case study in the marvels of modern medicine. Treatment regimens have evolved rapidly in recent decades, and the once-feared infectious disease can now be cured in most cases. By the late-2010s, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved several members of a new class of drugs called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). These drugs eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) from patients’ bodies in about 95% of cases in as little as eight weeks. Although they remain costly, DAAs embody a tremendous success in the battle against chronic hepatitis C.2
Unfortunately, many people live with an HCV infection for many years without realizing their health has been compromised. The insidious nature of chronic hepatitis C can cause delays in diagnosis until advanced liver damage is already present.3 This is why blood tests for the presence of HCV among high-risk populations are important. Preventive testing for hepatitis C can allow early detection so treatment may begin before the disease reaches a critical stage.4 Periodic blood testing can also help monitor liver health in those with hepatitis C as well as healthy individuals.
In this protocol, you will learn about HCV transmission and the consequences of HCV infection. You will also discover the importance of early detection and learn about breakthroughs that vastly improved medical treatment outcomes, as well as several natural compounds that support liver health.