Frequently Asked Questions
- I would like to change the Liver Clinic I attend, can I?
- I have suffered from depression in the past. I want to go on treatment but am afraid if I disclose the depression to the doctor it will bar me from getting treatment. How honest should I be?
- I know I should not drink while on treatment but would like to know what is the maximum amount allowed?
- I have hepatitis C and am expecting my first child. I know there is a 5% chance of my baby getting hepatitis C from me. What I want to know is when in pregnancy is the baby most at risk?
- I have been diagnosed with Genotype 1. Does this place my baby at greater risk of getting hepatitis C from me?
- I run a childcare centre and one of my staff has just told me that she has hepatitis C. Are the children and other staff at risk from her? Should I tell the parents and the other staff?
- Is there a vaccination for hepatitis?
Yes it is possible to change liver clinics during treatment. Make sure you take into account changing specialist, nurses, routine as necessary. If you are moving into regional and remote areas or interstate make sure that you have a good level of communication between the liver clinics treating you to ensure you are getting the best possible treatment for you.
It is always wise to be completely honest with your doctor about past medical history so that they can make informed decisions regarding future treatment options. Knowledge of a past history of depression will allow the doctor to monitor depression levels during treatment. Patients may be excluded from treatment if they are experiencing significant medical or psychiatric illness; however it is unlikely that a past episode of depression will cause a patient to be excluded from treatment although this will ultimately be decided by the doctor assessing you for treatment. It is quite common for people to be prescribed antidepressants medication during treatment regardless of previous psychiatric history.
Ultimately how much you drink during treatment is your responsibility and your decision. However it is worth knowing that even the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with progressive fibrosis. It is possible that by consuming alcohol whilst on treatment you could be reducing the effectiveness of treatment and increasing the damage to your liver. According to the treatment process and contract you are allowed 7 standard drinks a week (not all at once). However, it is always recommended to abstain completely from alcohol consumption while on treatment.
It seems that the vast majority of transmission occurs during labour rather than during earlier stages of pregnancy. In a study conducted by Alpes-Maritimes, Haute-Garonne, Herault between 1998 and 2002 the two factors most closely related with a high risk of transmission is a high HCV viral load at the time of delivery and HIV co-infection. The mode of delivery did not significantly impact on rate of transmission. The study also found that spontaneous resolution of viral RNA is possible in children; this means that some children who were HCV-RNA positive at the time of birth cleared the virus within a few months. All babies born to women with hepatitis C have antibodies in their blood. These are the antibodies that all people who are exposed to hepatitis C produce against the virus. The antibodies are acquired from the mother during pregnancy, but usually disappear within 18 months and do not affect the baby in any way. There is no evidence to show that a father with hepatitis C can transmit the virus to his baby during conception, or in the womb.
No. Genotype does not increase the risk of transmission from mother to baby. It is important only in determining the treatment length (i.e. genotype 1 requires 48 weeks treatment) and affects the treatment outcome.
Your employee does not pose a risk to the children or other staff. Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood to blood contact and the standard policies and procedures around infection control and first aid that apply to childcare centres are designed to prevent any risk of transmission of hepatitis C and other diseases or illnesses, including other blood borne viruses. It is important that you ensure these policies and procedures are adhered to by all staff, not just the staff member who has disclosed. It is important to understand that people can, and do, live with hepatitis C, or hepatitis B, without knowing they have it and this is why all staff should be treated equally.
Your employee is not legally obligated to disclose her hepatitis status to you and she has disclosed to you trusting that you will respect her personal information. Someone can only disclose their status to you if they know about it and, even then, it is their personal choice to disclose. Other people may choose not to disclose and that is their right. It is unnecessary to disclose her status to parents or other staff. It would also be a breach of her confidentiality if you were to advise anyone else of her hepatitis C (or any other personal information) and could lead to others discriminating against her. It is illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because they have hepatitis C or B.
Vaccination is available to protect against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Vaccinations may be performed by your doctor or at sexual health clinics. People who are considered to be at high risk of contracting hepatitis A or B may access vaccination at the W.A. Substance Users Association (WASUA) or at HepatitisWA.
Hepatitis A vaccination consists of two injections over a 6 to 12 or 18 month period for children, adolescents and adults.
Hepatitis B vaccination has been provided routinely to babies in Australia since 2000 and, in some States and Territories, to adolescents since 1997. Hepatitis B vaccination indirectly provides protection against hepatitis D which cannot survive in the absence of hepatitis B. The vaccination is provided most commonly as a course of 3 injections over a six month period for adults, adolescents and children.
A combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine is available and follows the same schedule of injections as for hepatitis B vaccination.
There is no vaccination available for hepatitis C, E or G.
Page last updated: Wednesday 11 August, 2010