World Hepatitis Day reminds Hoosiers to ‘Think Again’ about the virus

his undated handout photo provided by Gilead Sciences shows the Hepatitis-C medication Sovaldi. Sovaldi, a new pill for hepatitis C, cures the liver-wasting disease in 9 of 10 patients, but treatment can cost more than $90,000. Leading medical societies recommend the drug and patients are clamoring for it. But insurance companies and state Medicaid programs are gagging on the price. In Oregon, officials propose to limit how many low-income patients can get it. (AP Photo/Gilead Sciences)

Indianapolis, Ind. (WANE) The World Health Organization and the Indiana State Department of Health along with other organizations are recognizing World Hepatitis Day.  Monday, July 28, the day is dedicated to increasing awareness of viral hepatitis and the diseases it causes.

This year the theme for the day encourages people to “Think Again”, meaning to consider viral hepatitis a silent killer.

“Hepatitis can lead to liver disease and liver cancer,” State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. said. “Knowing your status can help prevent serious problems and stop the spread of disease to others.”

Earlier this month, VanNess urged Indiana residents to be tested for hepatitis because it can lead to liver disease and cancer

Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by different viruses, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Viral hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year.

Many people may not know they are infected or at risk of infection. World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions, such as:

  • strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;
  • increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programs; and
  • coordinating a global response to viral hepatitis.

Most Americans with hepatitis B and C are unaware they are infected until they begin to have complications from their infections. State health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to increase viral hepatitis awareness by talking with their doctor about risk factors, getting tested and getting vaccinated.

State health officials recommend a one-time hepatitis blood test for everyone between the ages of 48 and 68 years old. Treatments are available for both hepatitis B and C, and knowing your hepatitis status can help prevent ongoing spread of disease. Visit your health care provider and ask about testing.

To learn more about World Hepatitis Day 2014, click here. 


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