May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 17th is national Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them do not know they are infected. Hepatitis Testing Day is an opportunity to remind health care providers and the public who should be tested for viral hepatitis.
The Harford County Health Department is offering a no-cost Hepatitis-C testing day on Friday, May 17th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the 1 North Main Street location in Bel Air.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus. It is a blood-borne virus and most people become infected with the virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Here are four things you should know about viral hepatitis:
- Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are all different diseases. Each type of hepatitis is caused by a different virus and spread in different ways. Hepatitis A does not cause a long-term infection, although it can make people very sick. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections and lead to serious health problems.
- Chronic hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis B and C can cause serious damage to the liver, including liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. In fact, more than 60 percent of liver cancer cases are related to hepatitis B or C.
- Most people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected. More than four million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis in the United States, but most do not know they are infected. Many people live with chronic hepatitis for decades without symptoms or feeling sick.
- Getting tested could save your life. Lifesaving treatments are available for chronic hepatitis B and new treatments are available that can cure hepatitis C Still, getting tested is the only way to know if you are infected.
For more information, visit the health department’s website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com.