Fosters Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.) (05.08.2013)
Aids Weekly Plus
During Hepatitis Awareness Month, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services officials urge residents to know about their hepatitis risk. Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis and most do not realize it; this is an opportunity to remind the public and healthcare providers about who should be tested for viral hepatitis.
Approximately 75 percent of chronically ill persons with viral hepatitis are unaware they have it and are not seeking treatment or making necessary lifestyle changes to protect their health. In 2007, viral hepatitis C deaths surpassed the HIV rate for the first time. Health officials recommend hepatitis C testing for the following high-risk groups: baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965, before testing of the blood supply became standard; persons who had a blood transfusion before July 1992; injecting drug users, even if they have not injected in several years; HIV-infected persons; persons on hemodialysis; persons exposed to blood on the job, such as through a needle stick; and persons who have had a nonprofessional piercing or tattoo.
Officials recommend that the following groups, their parents, or their children receive hepatitis B testing and a consultation with their medical providers if they meet any of the following criteria: persons born in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Haiti, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, South America’s Amazon Basin, rural Alaska, or Hawaii; persons with sexual or household contact with a hepatitis B-infected person; men who have or have ever had sex with men; persons who use injection drugs; pregnant women; HIV-infected persons; persons on hemodialysis; and persons on chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant drugs.
CDC announced its “Know More Hepatitis” national campaign on World Hepatitis Day, July 28, 2011. The campaign educates people about viral hepatitis and encourages people to get tested to reduce the disease’s burden. As part of this campaign, May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month, and on May 19, the United States will observe National Hepatitis Testing Day. For more hepatitis information, visit CDC’s Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HEPAwarenessMonth.htm. To determine hepatitis risk, you may participate in a free, online assessment by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/HEPATITIS/riskassessment/. For questions or concerns about hepatitis, call the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at (603) 271–4496 or (800) 852–3345, extension 4496.