I did an antibody test for Hepatitis C today. My last exposure was on June 19, 2010, which is 31 weeks from today. If my results come back negative, am I home free?
My exposure is a stupid one: I snorted cocaine (not even half a line) and shared the dollar bill with two other friends. Thing is, it was my first time and another friend's first time. I'm 100% certain he doesn't have HepC, so no problems there, as he does not inject drugs, hasn't had a blood transfusion, or has unprotected sex. But my other friend has snorted cocaine and shared the rolled-up bill with some of his other friends who snort cocaine on a weekend basis. I'm really worried about this friend, but the time he did it with us was his second time, so it's very unlikely he'd have any nose damage.
I haven't done it since and will not do it again. I didn't really like it. How bad is my risk? None of my friends were bleeding from their noses, and neither was I. My doctor said the chances of me getting it are very, very slim. The only reason he said okay to me getting tested was for peace of mind. He also checked my liver for signs of inflammation and said everything checked out fine. I also have had none of the symptoms, but my understanding is that that doesn't really count for anything. My doctor wasn't worried at all by it.
I get the results on Wednesday or Thursday of next week (Feb.2 or 3). I'm extremely scared. All I've been doing is researching this stuff and I've found so much conflicting information: that the risk is high, that the risk is low, that the risk is theoretical, that the risk is only high for certain people (people who snort cocaine regularly). I have no idea what to believe.
In the event I DO test positive, what are the chances of making a full recovery from treatment especially since I would've found out I have HepC rather early, six-seven months in? I know if I test positive there's no way I could've gotten it from any other time in my life because I did a test in December 2009 and that test came back negative.
I guess what I'm asking is for some support and encouragement to get me through this week and a half wait.
"My doctor said the chances of me getting it are very, very slim.
None of my friends were bleeding from their noses, and neither was I. My doctor said the chances of me getting it are very, very slim. The only reason he said okay to me getting tested was for peace of mind."
Your doctor is a good doctor and his advice is sound.
If the antibody test is negative it should be repeated in the future. If it remains negative then most likely you avoided contracting HCV; this time but continued risky behavior increases the likelihood of becoming infected. You do not have to see visible blood on the straw or dollar bill to transmit the virus. If you develop an acute infection of HCV it should be treated. There is an 80% chance of developing a chronic infection, meaning it lasts longer than 6 months, if you acquire an initial infection.
I also have another question about transmission: how exactly would it occur with a dollar bill? If the dollar bill had microscobic blood on it, how does the other person, the snorter, get it? Does he/she snort the hepatitis C virus into their nose and that's how it happens or do you need to have a cut in your nose where the virus can go into the bloodstream?
Okay, so basically you don't snort the virus, and there needs to be an open wound.
Last question: would my 31 weeks test be conclusive if it's negative? Or would I have to re-test? Everywhere I read it seems to suggest after 6 months an antibody test is conclusive, but may not be in those who suffer from immunity problems or have undergone chemotherapy.
Since this was your first time snorting, I think you are safe. The reason I think so is that you could not have had much irritation in your nasal passages from continued inhalation of caustic chemicals. Your friend, the experienced one, could very well have very irritated nasal tissue that leak blood into his mucus and somehow ended up on the bill. Transmission could occur if another used the bill to forcefully inhale the chemical and a tiny bit of the bloody mucus from the first snorter attached at an irritated (open, oozing) spot in the second snorter's nasal passage. Gross, isn't it?
It sometimes takes months for antibodies to show up on these tests. If you are really concerned, have a HCV RNA by PCR test. It is an expensive tests, but it is conclusive.
This is the mode of transmission that I got the disease from; however, I was hanging out with real hard core partiers and did it more often than not. Just saying that because you should realize this is a real way of getting this disease and several others.
I always wonder why people just think about HepC though, it was the last thing I ever thought of in the world.
And it sounds like you know the answers to most of your questions so I think it's safe to say wait and see what the result is and then dont make the mistake again. There is lots of crud on $$$ bills......I mean think about it. Ewwwwwwwwww
Sorry to burst any bubbles but even one time use of intra-nasal cocaine or a shared needle can transmit the virus. There does not need to be a "cut" in the nose for this to occur. It only takes a small amount of contaminated blood to transmit the infection which will become chronic (lasting over 6 months) in 80% of people exposed. Also, there is the risk of transmission of hepatitis B and HIV. If you have HCV and lack immunity to hepatitis A or B you should be immunized. I would also recommend HIV testing as well.
You aren't bursting anyone's bubbles here. No one here, including myself, thinks I am not at risk. No one here has said "Ah, if it's the one time you're okay, don't bother testing." What they are trying to do is give me some support to lessen the anxiety I'm feeling while I wait for the test results. They're trying to help me sleep those 7-10 days before I go back to the doctors, and for that I thank them.
What you seem to be doing is trying to convince me to get tested. No worries there: I got tested. If I didn't think I was at risk, I wouldn't have bothered. I only wanted to know the risk factors involved: how likely is transmission, what about the people I shared the bill with, who've been friends I've known for 15+ years.
Everyone here understands that I'm scared (probably because I've said so in my first post above) and is trying, like I said, to calm me down.
HIV transmission? It seems from the HIV Prevention forums, both community and expert, that this is not a risk. HIV does not survive outside it's host. Otherwise frottage would just as easily be a risk, which is not.
My doc says the nose has to be damaged, here is his bio. I doubt many others posting here have more experience than this.
Dr. Greg Everson is currently Professor of Medicine and Director of Hepatology at the University of Colorado, Denver. Dr. Everson’s clinical and research interests encompass a wide range of topics in Hepatology and Liver Transplantation. Dr. Everson has authored several patient-help books, Living with Hepatitis C: A Survivor’s Guide, Living with Hepatitis B: A Survivor’s Guide, Living with Hemochromatosis, and over 300 manuscripts, editorials, and book chapters. Dr. Everson received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of North Dakota and his M.D. degree from Cornell Medical College. Dr. Everson’s post-doctoral training included a residency in Internal Medicine at Creighton University, Omaha, NE, and a fellowship in Gastroenterology at the University of Colorado. Dr. Everson is a fulltime, member of the faculty of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado. Dr. Everson has experience with other boards and patient support groups, such as the American Liver Foundation, and the HepC Connection. He became involved with PSC Partners because Ricky and Don Safer convinced him that the foundation would become a reality and help patients and families.
Here is what one of the leading docs on infectious disease has to say about the exact same question.
Sorry to burst any bubbles but even one time use of intra-nasal cocaine or a shared needle can transmit the virus. "
No bubbles burst at all. It's just that the chance of non-hard core users having intranasal damage in which to have blood get in is pretty remote, plus the other people have to have damage from which to be bleeding in the first place........so even microdroplets is a pretty far stretch.
Now if you are a regular hard core user your nose would have much more damage, the chance that others might also use IVDU would be higher and the chance of infection would be much higher over somebody just trying this out for the first time.
Remember it's Hep C there are a lot of docs out there that make claims they can't back up via clinical study. When you can't even repeat what the CDC says about sexual transmission of the disease, it's pretty poor.
For my money I'll stick with the guy who has publiched 300 papers, leads HALT-C projects, and chairs the committee that decides who gets livers via transplant in this country.
I still haven't received any results back. I called during the time I was supposed to get the results and they said wait two weeks. Now I've called and they've told me 3 to 6 weeks. I have no idea what to think from this. I'm even more worried now; that maybe the test came back positive and they are now checking to see what genotype I am. But I always thought that you take one blood test for antibodies and then take another blood test for the genotype/to see whether the virus is still in your body, but that test still needs new blood.
I have no idea what to think now. I'm going to my mother's doctor to get tested. Last time I was tested for hep C the test did not take 3-6 weeks; it didn't even take 2 weeks. I find it to be incredibly ridiculous. Not even HIV tests, the ones that go to a lab, take 3-6 weeks.
I've talked to a number of doctors including my brother who's a doctor in the States (I live in Canada). They've all said the same thing: you need to have done a lot of cocaine, you need to have a lot of damage in your nose, you need to have seen blood on the rolled bill. Pretty much what Dr. Hook said and for the same reasons.
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