National Hepatitis Testing Day is May 19thPosted by A.T. Martin on May 1, 2012 9:08 AM
In an effort to raise awareness about hepatitis and the importance of being tested, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has designated May 19th as the first annual National Hepatitis Testing Day. In recognition of this historic occasion, the Hepatitis Education Project will be hosting a free hepatitis C testing event at Victor Steinbrueck Park, near the Pike Place Market in Seattle, from 10am-3pm on Saturday, May 19th.
At least 4 million Americans have hepatitis C; and an estimated 2 out of 3 people remain unaware of their infection. Hepatitis C affects all age groups but is most prevalent among people born between 1945 and 1965. A wave of infection went through this population in the seventies and eighties, virtually unnoticed, because the virus was unknown and undetectable at the time. At HEP's testing event, we will be targeting this "baby boomer" cohort. This is in conjunction with upcoming guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that will likely recommend a one-time hepatitis C antibody test for anyone born during this period.
Getting tested is the crucial first step. When left undiagnosed, hepatitis C can lead to serious health risks; it often leads to cirrhosis and is the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation in the United States. And recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics have shown that hepatitis C death rates now surpass the number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS in the U.S. However, unlike HIV, hepatitis C is curable. Early diagnosis of hepatitis C is critical for preventing new transmissions and managing the most serious effects of the virus. And for many people, getting tested and diagnosed is the first step to getting cured.
For more information about HEP's National Hepatitis Testing Day event and others across the country, visit the CDC's National Hepatitis Testing Day website, or contact HEP at 206-732-0311