The World Health Organization (WHO) has marked July 28th as World Hepatitis Day, a day dedicated to spreading awareness about the various hepatitis viruses and prevention programs that can reduce people's risk of getting infected (World Hepatitis Alliance, 2015). For this particular blog post, I wanted to include some information about how Hepatitis C impacts men in the United States and in other parts of the world.
Basic Information about Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus that causes liver damage such as fibrosis or cirrhosis (WHO, 2014); the virus is usually transmitted from person to person through unprotected sex, sharing needles, blood transfusions using HCV infected blood, and blood transference between a mother and her baby (WHO, 2014). Individuals with acute HCV can carry the virus from 2 weeks to 6 months; whereas people with chronic HCV can carry the virus for a prolonged period of time (WHO, 2014). Also people with acute Hepatitis C may not exhibit any symptoms while people with chronic Hepatitis C may experience pain around the joints, fever, and vomiting (WHO, 2014). Though there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, people can decrease their risk of contracting Hepatitis C by using condoms during sex and not sharing needles; additionally taking antiviral drugs can decrease the severity of the disease (WHO, 2014).
Men and Hepatitis C in the United States
Men are at risk of contracting Hepatitis C. In 2013 approximately 29, 718 cases of Hepatitis C were reported in the U.S. (CDC, 2015). Of that number, about 0.7 cases per 100,000 men were diagnosed with Hepatitis C from 2010 to 2012 (CDC, 2013b, p.43). Among the male community, homosexual and bisexual men have a higher propensity to contract HCV (Roth, 2014). Also men with Hepatitis C are at risk of contracting other infections such as HIV (CDC, 2013a).
Men and Hepatitis C in Other Nations
Globally, about 130-150 million people are diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C (WHO, 2014). Though there are no statistics as to how many men are globally infected with HCV, individual countries have done their own studies as to how HCV have impacted men. The following articles are examples of some studies that have been previously done.
-Switzerland: "Prevalence of Hepatitis C in a Swiss sample of men who have sex with men: Whom to screen for HCV infection?" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3890510/)
-England: "Hepatitis C in men who have sex with men in London-a community survey" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4016752/)
-Thailand: "Prevalence and Risk Factors for Hepatitis C Virus Infection among Young Thai Men" (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911198/)
In celebration of World Hepatitis Day, men are encouraged to get tested for various hepatitis viruses including Hepatitis C. Since men with acute HCV may not exhibit any symptoms, they may not be aware that they are carrying the virus (WHO, 2014). Men should speak with their physicians about their risk of contracting HCV and whether they should be tested for Hepatitis C. Additionally, men should discuss with their physician whether they should get vaccinated for other hepatitis viruses such as Hepatitis A or B (WHO, 2014).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013a). Viral hepatitis: Information for gay and bisexual men. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/Populations/PDFs/HepGay-FactSheet.pdf.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2013b). Viral hepatitis surveillance: United States, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/2012surveillance/pdfs/2012hepsurveillancerpt.pdf.
Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC). (2015). Hepatitis C FAQs for the public. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/cfaq.htm#overview.
Roth, E. (2014). Hepatitis C in men: Symptoms, treatments, and more. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis-c-in-men#1.
World Health Organization (WHO). (2014). Hepatitis C. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/.
World Hepatitis Alliance. (2015). World hepatitis day. Retrieved from http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/en.
By: Tyler Moses
Tyler Moses is in the dual library science/ health studies master's program at Texas Woman's University.