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David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Little Talked About Illness Gets Its Due

July 29, 2015 - Hepatitis Prevention - Disease

This assessment will help determine if you should be vaccinated and/or tested for viral hepatitis by asking a series of questions. Depending on your answers, you will be given a tailored recommendation that you should discuss with your doctor or your professional healthcare provider. Any information received through the use of this tool is not medical advice and should not be treated as such.It’s an illness the World Health Organization (WHO) says someone dies from every 30 seconds, but no one talks about it. If that’s not reason enough to talk about it, I don’t know what is.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There are several different hepatitis viruses, with hepatitis C being the most common in the United States. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) estimates at least 35,000 people living our state are living with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. The number may be even higher – with people having it and not even knowing it.

Hepatitis C is spread through blood. Sharing personal hygiene items, such as a toothbrush, as well as drug use equipment such syringes to inject drugs or items to inhale or smoke drugs all increase the risk for the spread of Hepatitis C.

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C so the best way to prevent getting it is by avoiding the behaviors that can spread the disease, such as sharing needles or other equipment to prepare and inject cosmetic substances, drugs, or steroids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates three million people in the United States have chronic Hepatitis C, and its baby boomers who are at an increased risk. NMDOH encourages anyone born from 1945 through 1965 to ask their nurse or doctor about getting tested. Those born during these years are five times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C. Baby boomers account for more than three out of every four Americans living with the disease. Others who should get tested for Hepatitis C include:

  • Anyone who received blood or organ donations before 1992.
  • Anyone who has injected drugs, even it if was just once or many years ago.
  • Anyone with certain medical conditions including chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS.

NMDOH also focuses its efforts on Hepatitis B, which is vaccine-preventable.  Hepatitis B is spread through blood, semen and other body fluids by having sex with an infected person, sharing contaminated needles to inject drugs, or from an infected mother to her newborn.

Public health offices in New Mexico offer the Hepatitis B vaccine at no cost to those in high-risk groups including people who have had sex with more than one partner in the last six months, men who have sex with men and people who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease.

Find out if you should get tested or vaccinated by taking CDC's 5 minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment. To find a hepatitis testing, vaccine or treatment program near you, visit the NMDOH HIV/STD/Hepatitis Resource Guide.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.


Versión en Español

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