For Release: May 14, 2013 - Pamela Williams, Office of Communications - 405/271-5601
Protect Yourself Against Hepatitis
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month
People born from 1945-1965 should get a one-time blood test for hepatitis C, according to guidelines released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This month marks the 18th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining with CDC to remind people of the need to get tested, especially if they were born from 1945-1965.
The OSDH estimates that between 49,593 and 72,482 Oklahomans have been infected with hepatitis C. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, a vital organ that performs many of the body’s functions that are necessary for life. Millions of Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, and many don’t know it because people can live for decades without symptoms. However, over time, chronic hepatitis can cause serious health problems such as liver failure and liver cancer.
According to the CDC, while persons born during 1945-1965 comprise an estimated 27 percent of the population, they account for approximately three-fourths of all hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in the United States, 73 percent of HCV-associated deaths, and are at greatest risk for hepatocellular carcinoma and other HCV-related liver disease. Rates of hepatitis C in this age group are 5 times higher than other adults. In the past, blood tests for hepatitis C have not usually been included in routine physicals.
Persons who should be tested routinely for HCV infection, regardless of year of birth, based on their risk for infection include those who:
- currently inject drugs
- ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times years ago
- have certain medical conditions, including persons:
- who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels (ALT)
- were prior recipients of transfusions or organ transplants, including persons who:
- were notified that they received blood from a donor who later tested positive for HCV infection
- received a transfusion of blood, blood components or an organ transplant before July 1992
Persons who should be tested routinely for HCV infection based on a recognized exposure include health care, emergency medical, and public safety workers after needle sticks, sharps, or mucosal exposures to HCV-positive blood, as well as children born to HCV-positive women.
The OSDH recommends persons at risk for HCV infection should talk to their health care provider about being tested. The CDC has an online Hepatitis Risk Assessment individuals can access at
http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/ to help determine their hepatitis risk. For additional information and resources visit http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.
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