Hepatitis is a disease of special concern for women, and especially women who suffer from substance abuse or alcohol problems. There are many types of hepatitis and each can be transmitted differently. Women are at higher risk than men for some of these strands, especially those that are sexually transmitted. This Saturday, July 28, is the second annual awareness day celebration for this serious disease sponsored by the World Health Organization. This year’s theme, “It’s Closer Than You Think,” aims to to better inform the public about the transmission, prevention, and treatment of the hepatitis virus and the diseases they cause.
What is Hepatitis and How is It Treated?
There are a number of strains of the virus and they are designated by letters from A to E. Types A and E are acute illnesses with hard to miss symptoms like severe diarrhea, fever, and jaundice transmitted by fecal-contaminated water and food. These strains of the disease are most common in Third World countries where sanitary conditions are poor.
Strands of hepatitis B and C are both spread through contact with contaminated blood and other bodily fluids like semen. This contact can occur during the sharing of intravenous drug use needles, cocaine snorting straws, sharing of personal articles like razors and toothbrushes, as well as sexual contact. Unfortunately, a woman who is infected with hepatitis B or C can pass it to her baby during childbirth. Hepatitis C often has mild symptoms at first. Over time, the virus damages the liver, resulting in increased fatigue, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and later, jaundice and failure of the liver and possible death.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in 12 people in the world are infected with either types B or C. In the US, there are 4.5 million people with type C. As many as half of these cases result from the sharing of needles and snorting paraphernalia during drug use. Because of the mild initial symptoms which are similar to the flu, many people have type C without knowing.
Hepatitis treatment is effective, safe, and can reduce the risk of transmission to a baby as well as significantly decrease physical symptoms. Commonly, treatment includes the use of anti-viral drugs, however, not everyone will need medication. Sometimes, on-going monitoring of the virus and liver function combined with changes in diet and lifestyle are all that are needed for maintaining health. When treated, people with type C have a good prognosis for recovery and can even go into remission.
It can be hard to see your family member or loved one suffering with any illness or disease, especially substance abuse or alcoholism. Treatment is very effective for not only substance and alcohol abuse, but also for diseases like hepatitis which often accompany addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse, addiction, or associated diseases, please call us today. We have a women’s program designed to treat the unique needs of women during recovery. Destination Hope: The Women’s Program is a full service alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and women’s health treatment facility in Florida for women over the age of 18 who suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders.