Today Baby Girl went in to the neomed clinic for the last time. 18 months was the final visit since this was the visit we have been waiting for. Prior to 18 months any Hep C testing is not considered accurate thus the waiting. We did not preliminary testing which is not considered accurate before I began breast feeding without a nipple shield. That test was negative.
The Department of Veteran Affairs reports that it is less then a 5% chance a mother can pass Hep C onto her child though if the Mother is HIV positive the chance increases. There are treatments but not cures for Hep C though some people are able to "clear" the virus on their own. If a person "clears" the virus they will still have the antibodies however the antibodies do not prevent a reinfection if they are reexposed to the virus.
The Department of Veteran Affairs also reports that half of people with Hep C are asymptomatic meaning they have the disease and do not know it. That is why the CDC is recommending that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for Hep C as they are 5 times more likely then any other adult to be infected with 75% of adults with Hep C were born during these years. The CDC reports that it is not clear as to why this generation has such a high risk for Hep C.
The VA reports that out of 100 people with Hep C 15% will clear the virus while 85% will remain infected. Of the 85% that remain infected 17 of those will go on to develop liver cirrhosis and 2 will develop liver cancer. There currently are two drugs that treat the symptoms of Hep C and slow the damage to the liver though they do not cure the Hep C. Those with Hep C are encouraged to eat a healthy diet and avoid alcohol.
The risk of transmission of Hep C is low with the use of standard precautions. This means that if one has a cut it is advised that it is cleaned and kept covered. It is encouraged that you do not share personal items such as razors or toothbrushes as they can cause micro-cuts in your gums/skin and pass it onto someone you were to share with. We were told by our doctor that with good handwashing after being exposed to Baby Girls blood we would be safe to clean any scrapes or cuts she might get as a normal child would.
So whats next- First off no matter what we love Baby Girl and the results will not define her. Her risk is low- less then 5% on top of the fact that we had initial testing done that although it was not definitive at least initially indicated that she was not positive. If the results come back positive there will be further testing to determine if she has the antibodies or if she has an active Hep C infection (as she could be part of the 15% that clears it). If it is then determined that she is Hep C positive with an active infection we will begin to see infectious diseases. They will advise us to her treatment options. Since she is young and healthy and clearly asymptomatic I believe that a positive diagnosis really will change little.
I have written about this because I wanted to share our experience as when we were filling out our check list Hep C was one of the boxes we did not check. We were advised that it was a horrible disease (and in my professional work have seen people suffer cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer- its not fun!) Baby Girl was still presented to us because of all the other things about her situation that were a perfect match. I do recall momentarily seeing that D was Hep C positive but it really wasn't part of our discussion about if we should go to PA or not. Had we focused on the Hep C i'm not sure where it would have lead us but I'm glad it didn't stop us.
I think this is a lesson on really doing your own homework. Its one thing to go to the Pediatricians office and going thru the check list but it is another thing to really spend time researching. In our defense there isn't really much about pediatric Hep C.
So to all those prospective adoptive parents looking at that overwhelming grid of diagnoses I hope that this post was helpful at least to answer the Hep C question.
In our case I'm glad it was over looked because no matter what the outcome of the test results we will receive tomorrow- We love our Baby Girl.