Acute Hepatitis C
Last updated: February 1, 2006
A 19-year-old man presents to the clinic for follow-up after being seen in the emergency department 2 nights prior for a narcotic overdose. Medical history reveals that he started using intravenous heroin 2 months ago and has shared needles with several acquaintances. Review of systems is negative. He is a thin, slightly disheveled man with mild scleral icterus. A review of laboratory studies from the emergency room visit reveals a normal complete blood count, a normal basic metabolic panel, an alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level of 380 U/L, and a bilirubin of 4 mg/dL. He denies significant alcohol use or any history of liver disease. Several years ago, he completed the hepatitis B vaccine series. Given his recent exposure, acute hepatitis C virus infection is strongly suspected.
Which of the answers below are TRUE regarding this patient and the diagnosis and treatment of acute hepatitis C?