From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale Burstein
Date May 14, 2015
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
National Hepatitis Testing Day is May 19th
Baby Boomers Encouraged to be Tested for Hepatitis C
ERIE COUNTY, NY—May 19, 2015 is the fourth national Hepatitis Testing Day. It is a day for people at risk to be tested and for health care providers to educate patients about chronic viral hepatitis and testing. Millions of Americans have chronic hepatitis; most of them do not know they are infected.
"Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is usually caused by a virus. In the U.S., the most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis but most do not know they are infected. People can live with chronic hepatitis for decades without having symptoms, “stated Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health (“ECDOH”).
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released new guidelines recommending that people born between 1945-1965 receive a one-time Hepatitis C blood test. Hepatitis C rates among “baby boomers” are 5 times higher than other adults. Hepatitis C blood tests have not typically been included in routine physical exams.
“I strongly encourage “baby boomers” request a blood test from their healthcare provider to screen for Hepatitis C virus. Of the more than 3 million people living with Hepatitis C virus, 75% were born between 1945-1965. Hepatitis C is an extremely serious disease that can cause liver damage and liver failure. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can cause significant health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. In fact, Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the #1 cause of liver transplants,” concluded Burstein.
People who believe they are at risk are encouraged to visit the website www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/ and take a 5-minute Hepatitis Risk Assessment, developed by the CDC, that will provide a personalized report.
Effective treatments are available that can eliminate Hepatitis C virus from the body and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. But first, people need to find out if they have the disease. The longer people live with Hepatitis C, the more likely they are to develop serious, life-threatening liver disease. Getting tested can help people learn if they are infected and get them into lifesaving treatment.
The ECDOH STD Clinic at the Jesse Nash Health Center, 608 William Street, Buffalo, offers Hepatitis C Antibody screening to individuals in certain risk groups and a one-time screening to anyone who was born between 1945 and 1965. Cost of the testing is covered by most private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Individuals without health insurance pay on a sliding fee scale.
For more information
Erie County – www.erie.gov/health
New York State Department of Health – http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/hepatitis/hepatitis_c/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention— http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/index.htm
National Hepatitis Testing Day -- http://npin.cdc.gov/htd/HTD.aspx
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