Can I get vaccinated for Hepatitis C?
Not yet. There are vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, but not for Hepatitis C.
Can Hepatitis C be dormant in my body?
The word “dormant” means that something is there but not active. Hepatitis C progresses at different speeds for different people, but it is never dormant – if the virus is in your blood, it is damaging your liver and it is possible for you to spread it to someone else.
I have Hepatitis C but I feel fine. Why should I get treated?
You may be infected with the virus but not show any symptoms for many years until the liver’s function is compromised. If treatment is started BEFORE your liver is adversely affected, the treatment is more likely to be successful and the damage done by the virus to the liver will be minimized. Our clinical team can give you more information about your liver’s health.
Do I need to start treatment right away?
Finding out that you have Hepatitis C can be a shock, but it’s important to remember that it usually progresses slowly. Some people have Hepatitis C for many years without developing much liver damage. There are a lot of things to consider before starting treatment, and many steps that need to be taken. We can help you decide if it’s a good time to start treatment.
Do I have to be abstinent before and during treatment?
No. Some clinics and physicians require patients to have a period of abstinence (being sober, ‘clean’, or not using) from drugs before starting treatment for Hepatitis C – at Sanguen, we do not require this. Patients who are using drugs can, and do, successfully complete Hepatitis C treatment with our clinic.
We do ask that you speak to us honestly about your drug use so that we can evaluate whether treatment is appropriate for you. Some of the medications used for Hepatitis C treatment have strong interactions with street drugs and it’s important that you know the risks. It is also important that your drug use does not interfere with your ability to take your treatment medications as prescribed – the treatment is less likely to be successful if you are missing doses or not following the treatment schedule.
If you have Hepatitis C and you would like to stop using substances, we can provide you with information and referrals to help, but it is not required. If you are using drugs, it’s important that you use harm reduction techniques during and after treatment. If your Hepatitis C is cured, you can still get it again. Talk to us about harm reduction for your drug use.
Why should I come to Sanguen?
Our focus at Sanguen Health Centre is on the prevention and treatment of Hepatitis C – we’re Ontario’s first community based Hepatitis C service organization. We have an expert medical team and a caring support team to help you manage your health. Whether you’re coming for blood work or for counselling, we strive to make you feel welcome and comfortable.
Our commitment to our patients and clients means that we are constantly learning, growing and developing our programs to meet the needs of people with Hepatitis C in Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin.
Even if you’re not doing treatment with Sanguen, we invite you to participate in our Waterloo and Guelph support groups. Finding a good support network is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Is it true that the treatment makes you sick?
As with many medications, there are several possible side effects to taking the necessary medications to treat Hepatitis C. Fortunately, there are also many ways to counter these side effects and help you deal with them effectively. Together, we will help you find coping strategies to deal with these possible issues on an individual basis.
I’m scared about having this infection and getting treated for it. Is there anyone that I can talk to?
Our staff will be more than happy to talk to you about your concerns. They will take the time to explain the nature of the infection, treatment options, strategies for dealing with possible side effects, and discuss any other concerns you may have. If you need individualized counselling or treatment, we will assist you in getting you the help you need.
We have Hepatitis C support groups in both Waterloo and in Guelph. The groups are open to anyone who has, had, or is interested in learning more about, Hepatitis C. You do not need to be a patient or client of Sanguen – we welcome everyone. The groups are a great place to hear other people’s stories, ask questions, get support, and give support.
My friend has Hepatitis C. What are my risks?
Hepatitis C is only transmitted through blood. It’s safe to touch, hug, and kiss someone with Hepatitis C, and it’s safe to share cups, plates and cooking and eating utensils. If you’re worried about your risks, get in touch with us. We can give you the facts
Can I give Hepatitis C to my pet? Can I get Hepatitis C from an animal bite? Do mosquitoes spread Hepatitis C?
No. Hepatitis C is a disease that is only found in humans. It is not transmitted to animals or by animals. You cannot get Hepatitis C from a mosquito bite
Can I get Hepatitis C from sex?
The Hep C virus is spread through blood-to-blood contact. This means if blood is exchanged during sex, there is a chance of getting infected with Hep C. Here are some examples of times when you could get or give Hep C during sex:
- sex when a woman has her period
- sex with no lube (dry sex) or rougher sex that causes tiny tears or cuts
- sex when one partner has a sexually transmitted infection
- group sex if you don’t use a new condom, glove or dental dam when changing partners
- sharing sex toys
- using lube from a container that other people are also taking lube from
- oral sex when lips are chapped, cracked, or burned (like you sometimes get from crack pipes)
Even if you think the risk of Hep C is low and you have unprotected sex (you don’t use a condom during sex), you could still get other infections like HIV, Hep B or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These may make it easier to pass on Hep C. It’s like a downward spiral—if you can, use a condom during sex to break this cycle. (source: Catie )
Can I safely get pregnant if I have Hepatitis C?
**If you are currently undergoing treatment for Hepatitis C, extreme care must be taken to avoid pregnancy during treatment and for 6 months after completing treatment.**
Two forms of effective birth control must be used. Male patients on treatment need to make sure their partner doesn’t get pregnant during this time.
If you are not undergoing treatment, and you would like to get pregnant or are already pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or nurse. There is a risk of transmitting Hepatitis C from mother to baby during pregnancy.
What do I need to know about living with Hepatitis C?
Chronic Hepatitis C can only be cured through medical treatment – there are no herbs, special diets, or natural remedies for the virus. There are many things you can do, however, to help your liver stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible if you are unable to do treatment. You can read more about staying healthy with Hepatitis C by visting http://www.hepcinfo.ca/en/simple/living-hep-c/liver-care.
Please remember to take steps to protect other people from Hepatitis C.
At Sanguen, we can help you monitor your Hepatitis C, and the health of your liver, even if you’re not doing treatment.
How can I donate to Sanguen?
Sanguen is a not-for-profit agency. We welcome all donations! Please visit our donations page to learn all of the ways you can make a difference!