Hepatitis C is an infectious disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), that causes liver disease and inflammation of the liver. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of liver damage and death from the Hepatitis C virus, a study has found, adding that several people living with Hepatitis C are either former or current excessive alcohol drinkers.
The findings showed that people infected with Hepatitis C are three times more likely to drink five or more drinks per day everyday than those without Hepatitis C, lifetime abstainers or current non-excessive drinkers.
"Alcohol promotes faster development of fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis in people living with Hepatitis C, making drinking a dangerous and often deadly activity," said lead author Amber L. Taylor from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral Hepatitis.
In order to better understand the link between alcohol use and Hepatitis C, investigators examined self-reported alcohol use. The team looked at Hepatitis C infection rates for four groups: lifetime abstainers, former drinkers, non-excessive current drinkers and excessive current drinkers.
People who participated and tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies found that 50% were unaware before being notified. "Half of all people living with Hepatitis C are not aware of their infection nor the serious medical risks they face when consuming alcohol," Taylor stated.
The new information provided by this study helps shed more light on the level of alcohol consumption among those living with Hepatitis C. It can help guide best practices for both treating patients and steering possible interventions.
"Targeted strategies should emphasize testing to increase Hepatitis C awareness among undiagnosed people, prevent disease progression, and ultimately link those infected to curative lifesaving treatments," Taylor noted.