Our Providers and Hepatitis C care
Our physicians work closely with a growing population of patients who are positive for Hepatitis C. Three men in particular, under the care of Dr. Richard K. Zimmerman, needed treatment for this disease, and struggled in various ways to be able to afford treatment. Left untreated, Hepatitis C, can lead to liver cancer and even liver failure but the disease has a greater than 90% success rate of treatment.
Dr. Zimmerman faithfully worked with these men to navigate barriers to their care. He appealed denials from health insurance companies and drug manufacturers, patiently advocating for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) so that they might have the care they need.
The needed treatments can be expensive (Mavyret is reliably covered at $26,000 per 8 week course and the generic drug “Harvoni” is said to cost around $10,000 per month for a 2-3 month treatment) and require strict adherence to lifestyle changes, regular blood work, and frequent follow-up appointments with the treating physician. All of this can feel like an impossibility for these three men.
But we serve a mighty God. On September first Dr. Zimmerman was delighted to report that each of these three gentlemen had blood work indicating that their viral loads were at zero. The disease was not found in their systems!
So what is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Definition from the CDC
Learn about risk factors for Hepatitis A, B, and C by visiting https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm
Some Facts About Hepatitis
- Hepatitis affects more than 300 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO)
Hepatitis isn’t just an STD. Viral hepatitis can be transmitted through sexual contact, but there are many other ways to get hepatitis. HAV is most commonly transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or drink. HCV is mostly transmitted through exposure to contaminated blood; this can occur during blood transfusions, contaminated medical equipment, and injection drug use.
Viral hepatitis (Hep A and B) can be prevented through vaccines and Hepatitis C can be cured.
There are five different types of viral hepatitis. Hepatitis A,B,C,D, and E are the different types of hepatitis virus; all of these viruses cause liver disease. Hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis A (HAV) are the most common causes of hepatitis in the United States.
THE GOOD NEWS: It can be prevented, treatable and even curable!
You can prevent some forms of viral hepatitis through vaccination. Hepatitis vaccines are safe and effective; you won’t get hepatitis from a vaccine. There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Vaccinating against hepatitis B will also protect you against hepatitis D. Only those with hepatitis B can get hepatitis D.
In addition to vaccination, there are other steps you can take to prevent hepatitis infections.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom.
- Wash your hands after coming in contact with another person’s blood, stool, or other bodily fluids.
- Ask your doctor about hepatitis before traveling.
- Avoid contaminated water and foods.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat and fish.
- Thoroughly wash all produce before consuming it.
- Do not share toothbrushes or razors.
- Avoid illegal drugs.
- Clean and cover cuts and wounds.
If you think you may have Hepatitis, contact your Primary Care Physician or if you don’t have a PCP, contact ELFHCC by calling 412-661-2802.
MANA Medical Associates
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization