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Psycho-Social Aspects of Hepatitis C Research Paper

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Updated: Oct 10th, 2021


A chronic illness and disability have a great impact on individual lives and wellbeing. Hepatitis C, a known virus-caused disease that attacks the liver and that is also a chronic infector, is also spread by such an intimate exchange of infected body fluids. Moreover, the researchers suggested, the promiscuous men would probably encounter that organism, whatever it was, repeatedly; as a result, their immune systems would be overwhelmed, leaving them vulnerable to all manner of infections (Falvo, 2005).

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Form of Hepatize C

A chronic form, involves liver biopsy, which develops in the patients who become infected. The main problem is that chronic form has no symptoms (Worman 2006). There was a clue from the spread of the hepatitis virus; along with its ability to enter the body through mucous membranes, the virus also gained easy access via needles that were contaminated by infected blood and were shared among heroin users (a common practice). The symptoms of hepatitis C are go unnoticed. For this reason, it is difficult to estimate the total number of infections and the number of people who manage to eliminate the virus. This form of hepatitis does not directly destroy hepatic cells.


The main problem is that the symptoms of hepatitis C are indistinguishable from the hepatotrophic virus. Also, antibodies against hepatitis C do not appear until about 8-10 weeks after onset of the disease, a doctor cannot diagnose a disease. Chronic hepatitis C is diagnosed when abnormal liver tests are found. In most cases, “the physical examination is completely normal, but in some, the liver may be moderately enlarged and slightly tender” (Worman 2006, p. 65). Also, if the secondary factors were known, some of them might be appropriate targets in any effort to block full-scale development of hepatitis C in those infected. The harm reduction model, retrospectively understood in terms of a health belief model, can be applied to understand hepatitis C risk behavior. It maintains that when individuals are threatened by logistic and legal barriers.

Hepatitis C is a classic, serious complication of blood transfusions, and even though an almost foolproof screening test for it has been widely used for more than fifteen years, new forms of hepatitis caused by yet-unidentified viruses have surfaced, and are believed to be infecting 7 percent to 10 percent of the 4 million Americans who receive transfusions every year. If true, this would be a far greater threat than transfusion-related AIDS (Rhodes and Hergenrather 2003, p. 347). A number of predisposing elements — things that work in tandem with the basic causative agent of hepatitis C — have been suggested, among them duration of infection, environmental agents, genetic influences, a previously compromised immune system, and coexistent infection with other viruses or bacteria. Although investigators have yet to come up with firm data to support any of these secondary causes, there is a continued keen interest in what role, if any, they may play in hepatitis C (Worman 2006).

Psycho-Social Factors

The main psycho-social aspects involve emotional reactions to chronic illness and disability such as grief, fear and anxiety, anger and depression, feelings of guilt and frustration. When the illness diagnosed, patients may feel frustration and emotional distress which influences their life style and relations with the environment. “Those with chronic illness or disability may have particularly strong feelings of anger or hostility about their diagnosis or the circumstances surrounding their condition” (Falvo 2005, p. 6). And so, many researchers say they have come up with evidence to prove that positive thinking, a healthy attitude, and mental imagery that focuses on actually battling a disease like, say, cancer can be used successfully to fight off the disease and improve survival (Falvo, 2005). They know, also, that grief can temporarily injure immune function, and there is mounting evidence that daily, garden-variety stresses, as well as heavier pressures, can alter the level of T-cells just enough to set off a wide range of disorders from allergies to genital herpes. Among patients with hepatitis C, depression seems to be more frequent than in other diseases (Habib, 2003).

Other symptoms are equally nonspecific and include loss of appetite, nausea with little or no vomiting, vague abdominal discomfort localized over the liver, and joint pains with no swelling. The weak immune response also accounts for the shortage of liver failure in hepatitis C (Worman 2006). A feeling of anxiety and anger is caused by the fact that some patients are infected by donor blood or needles (Habib, 2003). A feeling of anger and frustration may be cause by late diagnosis and progression of the disease. Identifying that role, determining whether it takes more than the hepatitis C virus alone to cause the disease, would give researchers a clue not only to what conditions and practices beyond those already known increase the risk of infection, but to what proportion of infected individuals will ultimately develop the disease — questions that are still high among those about hepatitis C yet to be resolved. many patients are well aware of possible disabilities caused by hepatitis C, which lead them to feeling of guilt and anxiety. in this case, “frustrated goals, loss of self-regard, or loss of the illusion of omnipotence and control can result in internalized anger, anxiety, and guilt. To a great degree, how individuals adjust will be related to how they conceptualize the losses” (Falvo 2005, p. 85).


Treatment and rehabilitation processes require cooperation of different medical professional involving therapists and psychologists in order to help a patient maintain a healthy attitude towards life and overcome depression and desperation. Chronic illness has a great impact on life style changing behavior patterns and relations with people. A person with hepatitis C has to change its diet and limit sexual relations with partners. “Cognitive changes that inhibit or regulate emotional responses can result in disinhibition, impaired judgment, or impaired impulse control” (Falvo 2005, p. 53). Treatment also affects life style and behavior of a person. Treatment for hepatitis C involves interferon b and ribavirin. In some cases, interferon b cannot be used because it temporarily makes that disease worse. People with severe symptoms and abnormal liver tests with do not receive treatment because of the risk of making the disease process and causing the death (Habib, 2003; Lieber, 2001).


Prognoses for hepatitis C and its proliferation are not optimistic. Hepatitis C is fast becoming the world’s leading infectious killer, with conservative estimates indicating that there are more than a billion people infected throughout the world — 200 million as chronic carriers of the virus (which means they can pass it on to someone else) -50 million new infections every year, and more than 2 million deaths a year. Unlike AIDS, hepatitis C is highly endemic in places like the People’s Republic of China (500,000 to 1 million new cases every year) and Southeast Asia. Even Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East, thus far spared from AIDS, are endemic areas for hepatitis C (Worman, 2006). The gap in time between identifying the cause of a disease like hepatitis C and finding a way to prevent, control, or eradicate it is often, unfortunately, a long one. When a disease breaks forth from concealment and manifests its power, it is farther on the road to being cured. But the fact remains that virtually all of the infective agents that have plagued humankind down through the centuries have been as persistent in maintaining their grip on their hosts as the scientists have been in trying to loosen it.


Falvo, D. (2005). Medical and Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and Disability-3rd Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Habib, S. E. (2003). Understanding the Context of Risk Practices among Injecting Drug Users: Implications for Hepatitis C Prevention. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 38 (1), pp. 1-4.

Lieber, Ch. S. (2001). Alcohol and Hepatitis C. Alcohol Research & Health, 25 (4), pp. 245-250.

Rhodes, S. D., Hergenrather, K. C. (2003). Using an Integrated Approach to Understand Vaccination Behavior among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men: Stages of Change, the Health Belief Model, and Self-Efficacy. Journal of Community Health, 28 (5), 347.

Worman, H. J. (2006). The Liver Disorders and Hepatitis Sourcebook. McGraw-Hill; 2 edition.

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