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Women's Health

Hepatitis C Alert: Women Who Gave Birth Prior to 1992, Beware


All women who had C-sections, vaginal births or other gynecological procedures which required a transfusion prior to 1992 are at risk for hepatitis C, according to the California Hep C Coalition and the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG).

"We are concerned about women who received transfusions during gynecological procedures," said Josephine L. Von Herzen, MD, Chair District IX, ACOG. "In addition, women who gave birth may not be aware they had a transfusion of blood during the confusion and excitement of their procedure and the resulting birth of their child. A change in physician since that time could mean their new physician is not aware of the transfusion. We are sending this reminder to physicians to double-check charts and discuss the risk factors for HCV with all patients."

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread by direct blood-to-blood contact. In 1989, HCV was identified, but it was three more years (1992) before it was possible to effectively screen the blood supply for it. As a result, the virus is widespread in the population.

HCV often has no symptoms. The most common symptom of HCV is extreme tiredness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is possible to be infected for 20 years or more before enough liver damage takes place and recognizable symptoms begin.

"When patients come in for office visits, we urge OB/GYNs to review charts to make sure those who had transfusions before 1992 are tested for HCV," said Jack Lewin, MD, California Medical Association CEO and Hep C Coalition member. "It is urgent to identify any woman of childbearing age who may be infected. HCV can spread between mother and unborn child."

For more information call 888-4-HEP-CDC.


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