Liver lovers unite! Today is World Hepatitis Day


July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, focusing on the worldwide increase of this serious liver disease. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Hepatitis C diagnoses in our state have doubled since 2000.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and even death. The Hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Hepatitis C is usually curable with oral medications taken every day for two to six months. However, about half of people with Hepatitis C don’t know they’re infected, mainly because they have no symptoms, which can take decades to appear.

Two groups in Iowa are most likely to be infected: baby boomers born between 1945 and 1964 and persons under age 40 who have used injection drugs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a one-time screening blood test for everyone at increased risk of the infection. This includes baby boomers who ever in their life injected drugs or received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.

This screening can be done in your regular clinic. See the Hepatitis C fact sheet for baby boomers at the CDC website. For additional free and confidential information, contact the Dallas County Health Department at 515-993-3750.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.


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