FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2012
Contact: DOH Office of Communications Jessica Hammonds, (850) 245-4111
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RECOGNIZES JULY 28 AS WORLD HEPATITIS DAY – Baby boomers most at-risk for hepatitis C, so learn the risks and get tested-
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Health (DOH) recognizes that World Hepatitis Day is a time to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes. Any person, no matter their age, gender, race or ethnicity, can get the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are between four and five million Americans and more than 300,000 Floridians with chronic hepatitis C (HCV). DOH data shows that there are 118,833 baby boomers in Florida who are currently infected with HCV. About two-thirds to three-fourths of people living with HCV do not know they are infected.
“Deaths from liver-destroying HCV are on the rise, and new data show baby boomers should take heed because they are most at risk,” said Administrator of the DOH Hepatitis Prevention Program Philip E. Reichert, MPH. “You don’t have to have symptoms, so that is why it is very important to get screened and begin a treatment program to prevent serious and permanent liver damage.”
The CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis plans to release guidance on screening for HCV in conjunction with World Hepatitis Day. These will be CDC’s first HCV screening guidelines published since 1998. The new hepatitis C recommendations propose that all U.S. baby boomers, the generation born between1945 and 1965, get a one-time blood test to determine if they are infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is spread through contact with blood containing the virus. It is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. Sharing a needle while injecting illegal drugs is the biggest risk factor for becoming infected with hepatitis C. Another risk factor is a previous blood transfusion. World Hepatitis Day and the Guinness World Record: The World Hepatitis Alliance is planning a Guinness World Record attempt to celebrate World Hepatitis Day 2012 by trying to get the most people performing the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” actions in 24 hours at multiple venues around the world. These actions relate to the proverb known as the three wise monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth. There are many meanings attached to the proverb, but mostly it is used to refer to those who deal with problems by refusing to acknowledge them. This theme has been chosen to highlight that, around the world, hepatitis is being ignored.
In Tallahassee, H.E.A.L.S of the South (Hepatitis Education, Awareness and Liver Support), a community-based organization, will be participating in the Guinness World Record attempt on Saturday, July 28, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. at the Tallahassee Senior Citizen Center, 1400 North Monroe Street.
DOH encourages everyone who may be at risk, including baby boomers, to ask their healthcare provider to test them for hepatitis C. A simple blood test may save not only your liver, but your life.
For more information about hepatitis from DOH, visit: www.flahepatitis.org. For more information about viral hepatitis from the CDC, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/KnowMoreHepatitis.htm.
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