Term Paper: Hepatitis

Pages: 10 (3154 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Disease  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] 35% have subtype '1a', 15% have '1b', 7% have '2', 35% have '3' (mostly being 3a). The remaining people would have other genotypes." (Hepatitis)

The Replication of Genome provides insights into the Hepatitis C virus which falls under the family of Flaviviridae with a genus of Hepacivirus. "Nearly 4 million individuals in the United States are infected with HCV. About 30,000 new infections are diagnosed each year, and 8000 infected people die." (Burke, Dhopesh, and Taylor)

As noted, drug use accounts for almost half of all new identified infections on an annual basis and could perhaps add up to well over half of the chronic infections. "Of those with hepatitis C, 20% may develop cirrhosis within the subsequent 10 to 20 years. This susceptibility is increased by excessive alcohol consumption." (Burke, Dhopesh, and Taylor) The following table comes from the Bacteriology web site and provides the details associated with Replication of Genome:

Characteristics: enveloped; pos pol RNA genome; E1 and E2 envelope proteins; genome codes for 2 proteases and a RNA-dep-RNA-pol

Replication: similar to other Flaviviruses (?); genome encodes for a polyprotein that is cotranslationally processed into at least 10 proteins (4 structural and 6 nonstructural proteins); may replicate in cells other than hepatocytes; multiple genetic variants recovered from single individual

Pathogenesis: transmitted predominantly by blood (transfusions, iv drug use); high percentage (~80%) of infections become chronic; incubation 2-26 wks (average 6-12 wks)

Infections: Hepatitis (acute with resolution, chronic that is stable or results in cirrhosis [stable, progressive, or carcinoma])

Control/prevention: block transmission; chronic treated with? IFN or? IFN + ribavirin" (Bacteriology)

Mode of infection

HCV is spread through the sharing of needles or when "shooting" drugs. The needlesticks are the problem because blood as a residue remains on the open end of the needle shaft. It is therefore quite obvious to doctors and scientists that that injection drug users are susceptible to a number of infections because of the passing of blood-borne viral infectious through the needles. Diseases like the human immunodeficiency virus and viral hepatitis are among the list.

Since the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus, the health related education and the bulk of the media attention have focused mainly on the prevention of HIV. "It was the empirical observation of our unit staff that a large number of patients were hepatitis C virus positive. These patients, however, had very little knowledge of hepatitis, especially of the mode of transmission of hepatitis viruses." (Burke, Dhopesh, and Taylor)

Reliable blood screening for Hepatitis C became available in June 1992. As a result, the chances of contracting Hepatitis C from transfusions has dropped to less than 1 in 100,000." (Larson) As noted, there are many ways to get hepatitis C but there are some at greater risk than others. Someone who receives a blood transfusion and is notified by the source such as the Red Cross that the blood from a donor was later tested as positive for hepatitis C is obviously a candidate over someone who has never received a transfusion. People that have tried drugs that need an injection such as heroin users, even if they only did it once many years ago, are in a high risk bracket. In this case, frequency does not matter because it can happen the first time. Other factors for getting the viral infection include: blood transfusion or solid organ transplants prior to July, 1992; recipients of plasma-based clotting factors created prior to 1987; long-term kidney dialysis patients; and, individuals showing any signs of liver disease.

But other scary factors pertain to the hepatitis C strain. Some people simply do not know how they were infected. "She did not have any of the common risk factors, which include blood transfusions prior to 1992, tattoos, history of intravenous drug use, hemodialysis, use of intranasal cocaine, or history of promiscuous sexual activity. In up to 20% of people, it is not possible to identify a clear source for the infection." (Askari and Cutler)

Doctors also realize that because the disease can be a sexually transmitted disease, certain promiscuity can put an individual at risk. It is often asked if latex condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of the disease but doctors just do not know at this time. The problem is that if one was to kiss intimately while wearing a condom, the overall safety factor may be totally eliminated for preventing infection with HCV. Transmission occurs when blood or body fluids from the infected individual enters the body of an uninfected person

Current and Potential Treatments

Prevention is the best treatment -- not getting the viral infection in the first place is the best cure when it comes to hepatitis. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C Therefore, it would be a good idea for those in high risk groups to know the signs and symptoms associated with hepatitis C infection. If a person is in a high risk group such as intravenous drug addict, do not shoot drugs. If the person is compelled to shoot drugs, they should try and stop with the help of a treatment program.

Of course this advice is non-sense to a dedicated drug abuser. So, if the dedicated individual cannot stop, they should never share needles, syringes, water, or "works." A suggestion of getting the necessary vaccinations against hepatitis A and B. would also be a good idea. But if tall that fails, the signs and symptoms of a hepatitis related disease can be looked for. The signs are:


Fatigue dark urine abdominal pain loss of appetite nausea

The true problem however is that eighty percent or more of the persons infected may show any signs or symptoms.

Like the healthcare industry, many barbers and beauticians were adversely affected with the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus. The disease caused millions of hair care professionals to stop using straight razors n the typical haircut. The advice is clear - never share personal care items that may have blood on them such as razors and toothbrushes. Healthcare or public safety workers should always follow whatever routine precautions are in place when it comes to needles and sharp items and they should obviously get vaccinated against hepatitis B

HCV can be spread by sex however doctors and scientists feel it occurs on rare occasions. Although there is no documented proof or guaranteed success, doctors still recommend that if a person is having sex with more than one steady sex partner to use condoms correctly and on each occurrence of sex. This tried philosophy will work in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Another precaution might be to get vaccinated against the hepatitis B strain.

The current tattooing phase is and will continue to be a problem in regard to hepatitis. One should consider the risks prior to getting a tattoo or body piercing. The kids of my generation think they are safe procedures and only pain will be an issue, but industry tools can have someone else's blood on them similar to a hypodermic needle if the artist or piercer did not follow proper health procedures.

As stated, there is no cure or preventive medicine that can stop hepatitis. So if an individual gets the disease, there are only the few drug solutions currently available. "In 1998 it introduced Rebetron, a combination therapy of injectable Intron A and the antiviral capsule ribavirin, which has been shown to be considerably more effective than Intron A alone. Even so, however, some researchers have said that up to 60% of patients taking Rebetron fail to respond, underscoring the need for better drugs." (Price)

These drugs represent big business as the combined sales for both Rebetron and Intron A was approximately seven hundred and twenty million dollars last year for Schering-Plough. The other shotgun consists of Interferon and ribavirin. These are a few of the licensed treatments for chronic hepatitis. Once the HCV has been positively identified, the positive person must be evaluated for liver disease by their family doctor and they should avoid drinking alcohol because the chance of live r disease increases with each drink.


In conclusion, this term paper attempted to shed light on the hepatitis C virus. There are several strains of the hepatitis virus with some being non-issues such as the hepatitis A strain and others that are incurable killers. This report focused specifically on the Hepatitis C virus which falls under the latter. The report demonstrated that there are many ways for an individual to acquire the hepatitis C virus and that once it takes hold; liver problems are a natural transition. This report focused on the history of the virus; its molecular structure; the replication of genome; modes of infection and finally… [END OF PREVIEW]

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