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Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2019
Contact: John Lyon, Director of Strategic Communications (845) 638-5645
                 Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, D.O., M.P.H., CPE, DABFM, FAAFP (845) 364-2512

BABY BOOMER? GET TESTED FOR HEPATITIS C:
IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE!

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

NEW CITY, NY - - Are you a baby boomer (someone born between 1945 through 1965)? If so, Rockland County Executive Ed Day and County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert recommend that you get a blood test for hepatitis C, a serious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. People with hepatitis C often have no symptoms, can live with an infection for decades without feeling sick, and can be successfully treated with medications.

While anyone can get hepatitis C, more than 75% of adults infected are baby boomers. Most baby boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970's and 1980's when rates of hepatitis C were the highest. The virus is mainly spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Many baby boomers could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply began in 1992. Others may have become infected from injecting drugs, even if only once in the past. Still, many baby boomers do not know how or when they were infected.

People with hepatitis C often have no symptoms and most people don't know they are infected. Some people who get infected get rid of the virus, but most people who get infected develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. The longer people live with hepatitis C, the more likely they are to develop serious, life-threatening liver disease. Over time, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. In fact, hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the #1 cause of liver transplants.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis C is to get tested. A simple blood test, called an antibody test, shows if you have ever been infected with the hepatitis C virus. If the antibody test is positive, a follow-up blood test is needed to see if you are still infected. If you are infected, there is lifesaving care and treatment that can get rid of the virus from your body and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.

Ask your health care provider for a hepatitis C blood test. Free hepatitis C testing is offered by appointment, for individuals that meet the eligibility criteria, at Hudson Valley Community Services in Spring Valley. Visit www.hudsonvalleycs.org/testing/ or call (845) 704-7624 for more information.

In addition to those born between 1945 through 1965, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that you talk to your doctor about being tested for hepatitis C if any of the following are true:

  • You received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • You have ever injected drugs, currently or in the past, even if you injected only one time many years ago
  • You have HIV
  • You have been on kidney dialysis for several years
  • You were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
  • You have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
  • You were born to a mother infected with the hepatitis C virus
  • You work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needle stick or other sharp object injury

For more information, talk with your doctor or visit www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis.

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