May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month

Awareness Month raises awareness of viral hepatitis and focuses on this hidden epidemic. Millions of people in the United States have some type of Hepatitis and do not know it, as you can live with it for decades before you have any symptoms.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver.  It is usually caused by a virus. In some cases the infected person will have no symptoms. When symptoms are present they may be very vague and may include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, low grade fever, dark urine, and yellowing of the eyes and/or skin.                                                                                       

There are several types of Hepatitis.  The most common types are A, B, and C.  

Hepatitis A (HAV) is generally associated with food handling and improper hand washing.  It is usually spread hand to mouth. A 2 shot vaccine series to prevent HAV is available for both adults and children.  

Hepatitis B (HBV) is generally associated with exposure to contaminated blood and other body fluids. A 3 shots vaccine series to prevent HBV is available for both adults and children.  

Hepatitis C (HCV) Is generally associated with IV drug use and contamination related to organ transplants and blood/blood products transfusion prior to 1992. There is No vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. 

The baby boomer generation, people born from 1945-1965, are five times more likely than other adults to be chronically infected with hepatitis C. 

Recent estimates of HCV infection in the United States suggest 3.5 million people are living with HCV and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 45-85% of HCV-infected persons have not been tested or identified.

In Wisconsin more than 90,000 people are estimated to be living with hepatitis C, but only 42,500 have been identified.

Testing baby boomers for hepatitis C infection saves lives.  If you were born between 1945 and 1965, or if you think you are at risk, talk with your health care provider or local health department about testing for hepatitis C. 

Hepatitis testing is cover by most private insurances, The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, BadgerCare+, and Family Planning Only Services for Females Only. 

Available Resources include:

Your Medical Provider, Washburn County Health Department at 715-635-4400, and The Aids Resource Centers of Wisconsin:  Eau Claire; 800-750-2437 and Superior; 877-242-0282.

An online Risk Assessment is also available at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment

Resources use for this article:  

www.cdc.gov , Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the Liver Foundation. 

Last Update: May 04, 2018 9:15 am CDT

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