Cary, I did not address acute hepatitis. However, I was told that chronic hepatitis is when you have the antibiody for it. If one has acute hepatitis and the immune system throws it off, wouldn't that person still chronically test positive for hep C? I apparently contracted hep B (probably around the same time as I got hep C) and never even knew I had it until blood tests were done. I was told that I have the antibodies for it, meaning I had it but can never get it again or give it to anyone else. However, the fact that I will always test positive for it would seem to imply that it is chronic. That is where I was coming from, and based on facts I obtained at the time of diagnosis. That was in '93 and much has changed since then, including the jargon. However, I maintain that acute hep B or C that is thrown off will still show up in blood work, and such a person can not donate blood. If I am misinformed about this, please reference credible material to the contrary. I certainly would never want to mislead anyone.
I did mention a biopsy being the only way to really determine the extent of liver damage. However, if there is a cancerous liver tumor, the diagnosis can be obtained through a specific liver study with contrast via a CT scan, and/or an MRI with gadalinium. I had many of these when I was first diagnosed with liver cancer, and continue to have them about every 3 mos. I only had a biopsy done again, of the left lobe only, at the time the right lobe was removed. That biopsy revealed mild cirrhosis which was not seen with the '93 biopsy or in any of the scans or blood work. You are correct that liver enzymes can be normal or only slightly elevated and there still be liver disease. My levels, while usually chronically elevated somewhat, have never been alarmingly high--in fact, there are times when all but one have been normal. Also, my alpha fetoprotein, a tumor marker, has never been very high although my cancerous tumor was immense.
Rae, there is another new member whose doctor is waiting to see what her bloodwork is like in 2 weeks before deciding what to do next. It is possible that you were contaminated during your heart surgery, even if you did not have a transfusion. Also, tatoo and piercing instruments may be "sterilized" in alcohol or other solutions, but if they are not autoclaved they will not be free from any possible hepatitis virus or HIV. In the end, it doesn't matter so much how you contracted it (if you actually have), but that you do and must make some decisions about your health and treatment options. Prior to 1992, there were no specific tests for hep C.