STDs Expert Forum
Hepatitis C
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Hepatitis C

I am a male and I just recieved my STD panel back from the service.  I tested positive for Hepatitis C.  I am not sure how I got this considering  I don't use needles and don't have several sex partners.  The STD panel counselor told me that I tested at a 1.0 and that was just barely enough to give me a positive reading.  In fact that was the number necessary to even give me a positive reading. So I was right on the cusp.  She also told me that this didn't necessarily mean that I had Hepatitis C, just that there was something wrong and I should get a DNA test and have my doctor do further testing.  Either that something else was wrong or I caught it very early on or it wasn't hepatitis at all.

1.  What are the chances that this was a misdiagnosis and the barely positive result is in fact a sign that something else is wrong like the counselor told me?  I have been having digestive issues for quite some time now.  

2.  If I did catch this early on how long ago do you predict (i know we are speculating here) I received this?  I.E. a 1.0 test would mean that I have had this for 4 weeks.  etc. etc.

3.  Can drinking heavily cause liver to inflame which in turn causes a positive hepatitis test?  I don't consider myself an alcoholic because I don't drink everyday, however when I do drink it is definately binge drinking for several hours if not a whole weekend.  I had one of these weekends directly before the test.

4.  If caught early on can medication clear this up or at least make it so I don't pass it on to others?

Please advise.  I may sound calm but I am freaking out a bit.  

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Hepatitis C isn't an STD.  Although rare cases in gay/bi men are acquired sexually, it's not a topic we deal with on this forum, and in particular interpreting positive tests or advising about additional testing or treatment.  In my STD clinic, we do not test peole at risk for STDs for hep C -- only people at real risk, i.e. primarily injection drug users and some gay/bi men.  Therefore, I am not familiar with interpreting the test results you describe.  Also, based on the information in your other thread a week ago on the HIV forum, you were not at risk for hepatitis C and didn't need testing.

1,2) Although I am not an expert in HCV testing, I would think such a weakly positive result is probably is false and that you aren't infected.  If in fact you are infected, I cannot say how long you might have had it.

3) Heavy alcohol can cause abnormal blood chemistries as a result of liver damage, but HCV testing is not in that category.  Alcohol doesn't affect the test results for any infection.

4) That's a question for a hepatitis expert, not an STD forum.

My advice is to stop trying to find any answers online.  See your personal health care provider and follow his or her advice about confirmatory testing; and, if it turns out you have hepatitis C, about treatment and/or referral to an expert in hepatitis management.

Final comment:  I gather you had an "STD panel" from an online source, not through the advice of a personal health care provider.  As has been discussed numerous times on this forum, that is usually a waste of money, time and energy.  I'll bet you paid $200 plus for tests you mostly didn't need.

Sorry that this forum can't help much.  I won't have any replies to any follow-up comments or questions.

HHH, MD
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