Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: What is Hepatitis C?


Hepatitis isn’t a virus that is commonly talked about.  However, it can be dangerous. 

“Hepatitis C is a virus that can cause an infection that affects the liver,” noted Dr. Blake Garmon, an internal medicine physician at Sentara Martha Jefferson Internal Medicine. 

Dr. Garmon says people most at risk for hepatitis C are people who use IV drugs, people born to a mom with hepatitis C, people with HIV, and people who received blood products or solid organ transplants before 1992. 

“The CDC recommends that all people born between 1946 and 1965, essentially the baby boomers, should be screened for hepatitis C and Medicare and most insurance carriers do cover the cost of that,” noted Dr. Garmon. 

Screening for the virus is important, as there typically aren’t warning signs of a problem. 

“Most people who are infected with hepatitis C don’t actually know they are affected,” noted Dr. Garmon. 

Screening involves a simple blood test that can be done in your primary care physicians office.  It’s a proactive approach to keeping yourself healthy and avoiding complications that come if the virus is left untreated. 

“The problem with hepatitis C is that when it’s left untreated there is a risk of developing chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, chronic liver failure which can require a liver transplant, and also liver cancer,” noted Dr. Garmon. 

For more information on this topic, call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

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