July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, focusing on the increase worldwide 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. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c)
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.
For additional free and confidential information, contact the Dallas County Health Department at 515-993-3750.