To coincide with National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day on Friday, May 19, more than 100 health advocates and community leaders gathered at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for the National Viral Hepatitis Testing Day conference as a way to raise awareness on the dangers of all forms of hepatitis.
Conference attendees were encouraged to collaborate and brainstorm ways to reduce death and disability from the preventable disease which affects more than 5 million Americans every year. The conference also urged health advocates and professionals to increase testing and availability of treatment.
Viral hepatitis — which is the leading cause of infectious mortality — is variable in contraction and effects and can be spread in several ways. Hepatitis A can lead to severe illness but does not lead to chronic health issues.
There was a particular focus on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, which are much more life-threatening than Hepatitis A. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can lead to chronic, life-long infections and serious health problems, including severe liver damage or even cancer.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), all individuals from Asia or Africa should be tested, regardless of any past vaccinations. For Hepatitis C, baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), people who have unprotected sex, injection drug users and those who received a blood transfusion before 1985 should be tested.
“People can live with Hepatitis B or C for decades without feeling sick, but the virus may be causing damage to the liver during that time,” said Ying-Ying Goh, MD, health officer of the City of Pasadena Public Health Department. “There are lifesaving treatments that can prevent serious liver damage from Hepatitis B and treatments that can cure Hepatitis C infection. Talk to your doctor to get tested.”
Clinics in the Los Angeles area offer free screenings by the Asian Pacific Liver Center. To view a list of testing dates and locations, visit www.asianpacificlivercenter.org. (Klarize Medenilla/AJ Press)
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