52 Weeks to Health: Week 20, Hepatitis Awareness Month

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19th is Designated Hepatitis Testing Day

Are you at risk? Take the Hepatitis Risk Assessment.

Hepatitis or inflammation of the liver can be caused by viruses, medication, toxins, excessive alcohol intake but most commonly by viruses named Hepatitis A, B or C. Hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccination but there is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease which results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus.  It is transmitted through contaminated blood, as when sharing needles or through blood transfusion prior to  1992 (since 1992 all blood and blood products have been screened for Hepatitis C).  It may also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, though not as frequently as for Hepatitis B virus or HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Acute Hepatitis is a short lived illness which may have no symptoms or cause symptoms such as nausea, jaundice, abdominal pain, fatigue and fever.  Unfortunately, about 60-70% of infected individuals will progress to Chronic Hepatitis, some of whom will develop cirrosis and /or liver cancer. Although Hepatis C infection may not produce symptoms and decades can pass before symptoms of chronic liver disease may develop, infected individuals are still contagious. It is thought that half of all people infected with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected- the only way to find out, is to get tested. Treatment stops the progress of liver disease and lowers the possibility of transmission.

Some Facts:

  • Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne infection in the US with estimates between 2.7-3.9 million people living with the disease.
  • Baby boomers account for 75% of those infected in the US.
  • 80% of patients with hepatitis C have no symptoms.
  • 80% will have chronic infection.

On a separate note, it is important to point out that Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest states in our nation; but, a few healthy lifestyle choices could change this. First, eating normally proportioned helpings of nutritious foods including at least five fruits and vegetables a day can lower weight and reduce heart disease and diabetes. Second, exercising about 30 minutes per day can lower blood pressure. Third, avoiding the use of tobacco products can reduce several types of cancer. Finally, making sure you get your needed preventive screenings can detect diseases early and greatly increase your chances for a positive health outcomes, while receiving your recommended vaccinations can prevent acquiring disease in the first place.

Don’t forget to visit our website at www.LCDHD.org and fill out your wellness profile for a chance to win $1,000.00.