Human Hepatitis C Virus

Human Hepatitis C Virus

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tips to stay healthy with Hepatitis C

So you have Hep-C?  What you can do to stay as healthy as possible ~

In HEPATOLOGY, March, 2009, they concluded that "dietary nutrient composition may be an important and potentially modifiable determinant in liver disease."
PMID: 19441103 

It's true - the fact is that your daily diet and overall lifestyle effect your health, especially if you have Hepatitis C.

Some healthy living tips for those with Hepatitis C ~

1:  No alcohol consumption as it has a toxic effect on liver cells, enables the HCV virus to multiply more rapidly and makes you more prone to liver cancer according to studies.  Alcohol also counteracts the benefits of treatment in many ways, making any treatment for HCV less effective
2:  Try fresh, organic produce, whether store bought or homegrown, as this reduces the chemicals that an already stressed HCV liver will need to process.  Avoid environmental pollutants always.
3:  A well-nourished body will fight Hepatitis C best.  A diet rich in calories and nutrients on a daily basis is critical as is healthy exercise to keep your body functioning well.  Make every calorie you consume as nutrient-dense as possible.
4:  Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day - whether walking or hiking, jogging or biking.  Include some strength training.  Yoga is an excellent activity - consisting of mild exercise, stretching and twisting which detoxifies the body, and meditation which relaxes the body and the mind.  Exercise rejuvenates the body and spirit.
5:  Eat enough protein for your body, drink protein shakes if possible.  Protein is necessary to help the body repair damaged liver tissue - as well as for basic everyday needs such as production of new blood cells.
6:  Eat at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables as they provide important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  Legumes and beans, and certain herbs and spices also contain abundant phytochemicals which behave like powerful antioxidants counteracting the harmful effects of destructive free radicals.
7:  Drink lots of water!  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a glass of water at least three times a a day.  Add some grated ginger and a few slices of cucumber too.  Staying hydrated is critical to flushing out toxins and the lemon juice naturally detoxifies the liver and provides vitamin C, another important antioxidant.

I suggest reading The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman as well as his book on UltraWellness.  He writes about Functional Medicine - or food as medicine - and has an excellent overview of detoxifying your body.  You can find Dr. Hyman's resources at You might appreciate his weekly e-newsletter as do I.

In future posts we'll discuss the role of antioxidants, herbs, immune system enhancers,
vitamins, amino acids, minerals including iron and some natural  interferon boosters for their beneficial effects on the liver and their role in supporting a healthy immune system.  In the meantime check out for some excellent resources on Hep-C and diet.  Be well-

All the best,
Always - Hep C Girl

Friday, March 9, 2012

If there is any good news -

The good news is that the new generation of drugs designed to treat Hepatitis C is more effective and efficient with fewer nasty side effects.  Across this country there are currently almost 500 clinical trials seeking new volunteers.  Just check out (or ) and search for Hepatitis C AND (must be all caps) your state. This is where you'll find treatments that are more successful and more easily tolerated than the current standard of care.

Why bother to treat Hepatitis C, especially if you have no pressing symptoms at the moment?  Well if it was attacking your face, you'd seek treatment, right?

The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is increasing worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 170 million individuals throughout the world are infected with HCV. An estimated 1.8% of the population in the United States is positive for HCV antibodies; this rate corresponds to an estimated 3.9 million persons with HCV infection nationwide. Infection due to HCV accounts for 20% of all cases of acute hepatitis, an estimated 30,000 new acute infections, and 8,000-10,000 deaths each year in the United States.

  • In the US: HCV infections account for approximately 30,000 new infections and 8,000-10,000 deaths each year in the United States. Of the new infections, 60% occur in persons who use intravenous drugs; fewer than 20% are acquired through sexual exposure; and 10% are due to other causes, including occupational or perinatal exposure and hemodialysis. The overall prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in the United States is 1.8% of the population. Approximately 74% of individuals are positive for HCV RNA; this rate indicates that an estimated 3.9 million persons are infected with HCV and 2.7 million persons in the United States have chronic infection. Three fourths of these individuals are infected with HCV genotype 1.

  • Internationally: More than 170 million individuals throughout the world are infected with HCV. The prevalence rates in healthy blood donors are 0.01-0.02% in the United Kingdom and northern Europe, 1-1.5% in southern Europe, and 6.5% in parts of equatorial Africa. Prevalence rates as high as 20% are reported in Egypt; these rates are attributed to the use of parenteral antischistosomal therapy.

Hepatitis C is the major cause of chronic hepatitis in the United States. HCV infections account for 20% of all cases of acute hepatitis. It accounts for more than 40% of all referrals to active liver clinics.

  • Severe progression of hepatitis C to cirrhosis occurs in approximately 20% of patients who have chronic infection. The rate and chance of progression varies with certain factors, including sex, alcohol use, concomitant hepatitis, age, and several other factors.

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma develops in 1-4% of patients with cirrhosis each year. HCV is largely responsible for the recent increase in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States.

  • In the United States, the number of deaths due to HCV-related complications has increased from fewer than 10,000 in 1992 to just fewer than 15,000 in 1999. This number is expected to increase in the future because of the current large pool of patients with chronic infections.

So stop and think about seeking treatment for your Hepatitis C, even if you don't feel sick.  Be well -

All the best,
Always - Hep C Girl

The Hepatitis C Virus

The Hepatitis C Virus

Although its means of transmission is fairly well documented, the hepatitis C virus itself largely remains a mystery. Hepatitis C is extremely small, even for a virus - it is only about 50 nanometers in diameter. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter - if you placed 200,000 hepatitis C viruses end to end, they would be only a single centimeter long. (They are so small that they have no color - they are in fact smaller than the wavelength of visible light.) However, what is known about hepatitis C underscores the type of threat that it poses.

Hepatitis C is an RNA virus - which means that it mutates frequently. Once an infection has begun, hepatitis C creates different genetic variations of itself within the body of the host. The mutated forms are frequently different enough from their ancestors that the immune system cannot recognize them. Thus, even if the immune system begins to succeed against one variation, the mutant strains quickly take over and become new, predominant strains. As a result, the development of antibodies against HCV does not produce an immunity against the disease like it does with most other viruses.

More than 80% of the individuals infected with HCV will progress to a chronic form of the disease.

As a result of this, hepatitis C is usually not self-limited as a disease. In more than 85% of all cases, whether they progress to chronic liver disease or not, the infected individual carries the virus for life. This means that they also remain contagious for a lifetime, able to transmit the virus to others. And because of the long progression of the illness, even patients who will eventually die as a result of hepatitis C carry the virus for decades before it takes their lives. Most epidemics are self-limiting - they spread rapidly, but over a short period of time the affected population either dies or develops an immunity to the disease, and it stops spreading. Not so with hepatitis C. Much like HIV and AIDS, it lasts a lifetime, and kills slowly - giving the virus plenty of time to spread.

There are six basic genotypes of HCV, with 15 recorded subtypes, which vary in prevalence in different regions of the world. Each of these major genotypes can differ
significantly in their biological effects - in terms of replication, mutation rates, type and severity of liver damage, and detection and treatment options. However, these differences are not yet clearly understood.

The 21 current variations in genotype, complicated by the constant mutation of the virus within infected individuals, represents a major challenge for the development of treatments and vaccines against HCV - and even for reliable detection of the virus. There is no guarantee that a treatment, test, or vaccine against one strain will be effective against all of them. Moreover, individuals cured of one strain will be prone to reinfection by any of the other strains.

There is reason to be optimistic about treatment: Cure is increasingly feasible.

I hope this info on HCV will serve all in this country and beyond.
C. Everett Koop, MD

Let's discuss this silent epidemic today

March 9, 2012

Welcome to my world,

In 2008 I was matter-of-factly informed that I had Hepatitis C, often referred to as HCV as I've come to learn.  A routine blood test discovered this life-changing event.  I had no idea that I was sick - in fact other than drinking too much wine I had always considered myself much more healthy than average.  What a shock - I was so disbelieving that I asked my doctor to repeat the test.  I had no symptoms other than - looking back - I sometimes felt the need to nap at lunch.  Who doesn't?

I now consider myself even more healthy - physically fit and an organic whole food-only eater.  I am in better shape now than I was five years ago.  I know more now.  It's actually a good time to own a body, even one with HCV.  I don't think of myself as sick, but I know the demon lurking can easily kill me, maybe not now but certainly eventually.

Not long ago the Wall Street Journal headline read:  Hepatitis C deaths up, baby boomers most at risk.  No kidding!

"One of every 33 baby boomers are living with hepatitis C infection," says Dr. John Ward, hepatitis chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Most people will be surprised, because it's a silent epidemic."

A silent epidemic - and silent in many ways.  Doctors do not routinely test for the disease, those who have HCV do not want to speak about it openly for fear of judgement (how did you get it? maybe you deserve it for being so foolish!  can I catch it from you?), and those who have gone through treatment, even repeatedly as I have, are quiet about it because of the pain and suffering the treatment forces us to endure.  I certainly don't want to appear ill or even weak.  And there are no walks or races or silent auctions in support of the research to find a cure... no Susan G. Komen Foundation Race For The Cure, no gala fundraisers.  HCV is silent on so many fronts.

I am going to blog about this disease and my dance with it.  I truly believe that this will be my year - in 2012 I will finally (after trying yearly for the past four years) beat the virus that changed my life.  In future posts I will discuss the treatments for HCV - the ones I have tried and the emerging drugs, and try to explain and enlighten.  I will provide links to credible resources for anyone effected by HCV.  I hope you'll email me if you need any support.  Let me know what you might  want to see - your feedback is welcome.  Let's discuss this silent epidemic together.  Be well.

All the best,
Always - Hep C Girl