May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Let’s pull together and save some lives in Tallahassee by educating each other about hepatitis. “kNOw more hepatitis” is the CDC’s logo for hepatitis awareness. Everyone should be vaccinated for hepati…tis A and B and most should be tested for hepatitis C. 1 in 12 people in the world have some form of hepatitis.
In the U.S., it is estimated that almost 4 million people have hepatitis C with less than a million being diagnosed. That is 4 times more prevalent than HIV! There is not a vaccine for hepatitis C. It is spread by blood to blood transmission but that can happen in ways that many people haven’t thought about. Hepatitis C can live in the air for up to 4 days. It was still in the blood supply until 1992. There have been outbreaks at hospitals, cancer clinics, pain clinics, endoscopy clinics, dental offices, dialysis centers, tattoo parlors, barber and beauty shops. Anyplace a blood to blood transmission could occur. While IV or intranasal drug use (even once 40 years ago) is an efficient way to spread hepatitis C, it is not the only way! Last year the CDC recommended that all Baby Boomers (those born between 1945-1965) have a one time hepatitis C test. They feel that would find almost 800,000 undiagnosed people and save 120,000 lives. All forms of hepatitis attack the liver. The liver is a non-complaining organ so most people do not have any symptoms until the late stages of the disease and that can lead to liver cancer, liver transplant or liver failure. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. There are treatments currently available with almost an 80% success rate and more treatments are in clinical trials that will improve treatment in the future. Please don’t take your status for granted. It is a simple blood test that you can ask your doctor to add to your next set of lab work.
For more information visit www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis and for questions and support in Tallahassee visit www.HEALSoftheSouth.org There is a monthly meeting that is free and open to the public listed on that site.
If you are a Baby Boomer, please ask your doctor to test you for hepatitis C. You might just save your own life or the life of a friend or relative. Share the information and learn the facts.
Pam, Miriam, and Jeanette, R.N.
H.E.A.L.S of the South
Hepatitis Education, Awareness and Liver Support