ST. LOUIS – Most people with Hepatitis C have no symptoms for several years. In fact, up to 80 percent of people who carry HVC show no symptoms until it’s too late and liver damage has occurred. As a result, federal disease experts recommend screenings for baby boomers, the group most likely to be infected without knowing it.
Symptoms may include: Fatigue, Fever, Abdominal pain, Bloating, Fluid in the abdomen, Dark urine, Loss of appetite, Nausea, Bleeding
Hepatitis C is a viral infection spread through contact with an infected person’s blood that leads to inflammation of the liver. Left untreated, Hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, liver cancer, and death. In fact, chronic Hepatitis C infection is a major cause of liver transplants in the U.S.
Until recently, doctors didn’t have much to offer patients who tested positive for HCV. But thanks to research conducted by SLUCare physicians at the SLU Liver Center and other top centers, new breakthrough anti-viral drugs are available that can cure HCV infections in as little as 8-12 weeks with no significant side effects. Now, SSM Health offers two Hepatitis C clinics to provide specialized care for those in need. One is located at SSM Health DePaul Hospital and the other is at SSM Health SLU Hospital. The clinic has seen nearly 150 patients throughout the last year, has treated more than 100 patients and have been able to cure most of the 100 patients they have treated.
Dr. Patrick McDonough, the medical director of the Hepatitis C clinic at SSM Health DePaul, says they are looking for more patients to build upon their success.
“It’s gone from 20-25 years ago from a disease that was poorly understood and didn’t have a name. It wasn’t able to be diagnosed. To a disease that could be treated and provide a cure,” he said.
If patients can be found and treated, Dr. McDonough believes we could eradicate the disease.
If you think you may have Hepatitis C, or you have been diagnosed with Hepatitis C, contact the experts at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital or SSM Health DePaul Hospital to learn how our experienced team would approach your care. We will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the type of HCV you have and whether you have any liver damage to establish the best course of treatment for you. Click here to learn more.
The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.