Hepatitis C & HIV Guest Commentary

   Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are becoming an increasing concern in Southeastern Missouri. Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that is the leading cause for liver transplantation in the United States. Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through the blood. It is not transmitted by casual contact. It can also be spread through sexual contact with multiple partners, but this is not as common. Hepatitis C is primarily spread via unclean or shared needle use. To prevent the spread of disease, persons diagnosed with Hepatitis C should use protection during intercourse, and obtain clean needles if using any type of needles; they should also not share things such as razors, toothbrushes, or pierced earrings because of possible microscopic blood that could be on these items. Additionally, if you are thinking of getting a tattoo, clean needle usage should be ensured before hand.

            HIV is a viral infection that attacks the body’s immune system and overwhelms it with time. Transmission can occur at any stage of the HIV disease. The virus is most concentrated in semen and blood, but can also be found in most other body fluids. There are three ways in which HIV is most commonly transmitted: through sexual contact, sharing of needles, and during pregnancy, birth, or from breast milk. Concerning sexual transmission of the disease, abstinence and mutually monogamous sexual relationships with a non-infected partner are the only absolutely safe methods of preventing HIV infection. The CDC recommends that infected persons use condoms to reduce the risk of infection spread. Individuals diagnosed with HIV can also prevent the spread of the disease by following the same guidelines as for Hepatitis C, such as obtaining clean needles, and not sharing personal items such as razors, toothbrushes, and earrings. Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant, or who are pregnant, and are diagnosed with HIV should talk to their primary physician about their concerns.

            The local health department in Ste. Genevieve is a great resource in the community for HIV and Hepatitis C screening. If you have questions about treatment options or about further ways to prevent the spread of the disease you can contact the department via phone at (573)833-7411. Screening tests are available during clinic hours Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. The health department is located at 115 Basler Drive Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

By: Hepatitis C1

Southeast Missouri State University