Simple Blood Test Can Help With Diagnosis, Treatment, Explains Mercy’s Dr. Anurag Maheshwari, Institute For Digestive Health & Liver Disease
Hepatitis C is a virus that is much easier to treat, if detected early.
There is often a stigma with the virus, which is why some people don't get screened.
The screening test is a simple blood test and one that many specialists would like to see everyone receive.
Diana Williams, who was diagnosed with the illness, agrees with that thought process.
“At the end of the day I was just totally exhausted,” Williams said.
Williams said that constant feeling of being tired was the reason her daughter pushed her to go to the doctor.
“I'm a recovering addict,” Williams said. “After about 25 years of drinking and using drugs, and I didn't know I did that much damage to my liver. I had cirrhosis of the liver, along with (hepatitis) C.”
More testing revealed Williams had liver cancer and it was recommended she get a liver transplant.
“I put a lot of wear and tear on my body,” Williams said. “I had my own beat up session.”
According to Dr. Anurag Maheshwari of The Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy, there is a stigma with the virus, but there shouldn't be. Studies and trials reveal that risky behavior isn't always the cause.
“One of things I tell my patients (is) let's not focus on how you got it,” Dr. Maheshwari said. “Up to 30 percent of patients have no idea how they got it. They cannot identify a single risky exposure where they could have contracted hepatitis C.”
Dr. Maheshwari would like to see all patients get screened for hepatitis C. The sooner it is detected, the easier it is to treat, Maheshwari said.
"We have effective treatments, easy treatments, with few side effects (that include) 12 weeks of medications (and have) 99 percent cure rates,” Dr. Maheshwari said.
Williams did eventually get a liver transplant and she is grateful for it every day.
"It's about living,” Williams said. “Now I appreciate life more than ever before."
View Dr. Maheshwari’s interview regarding screening and treatment for hepatitis C.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.