This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
July 28 is the birthday of Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011). Because he discovered the Hepatitis B virus as well as the Hepatitis B vaccination, we recognize July 28 as World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis is an alphabet soup of viruses from A to E that affects 400 million people worldwide. Hepatitis results in both short-term and long-term liver disease. Hepatitis A can occur when an unvaccinated person eats contaminated food or drinks contaminated water. Hepatitis B, C, and D can spread by contact with blood and body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis E is spread through contaminated water. Hepatitis A, B and C are the most common types in the United States.
Often, those infected with hepatitis do not have symptoms and thus do not know they have been infected. A blood test for hepatitis is recommended for:
Persons born between 1945-1965;
Those who received a clotting factor concentrate before 1987;
Those who have had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992;
Any man who has had sex with another man;
Any person born outside of the U.S. or if at least one of your parents was born outside of the U.S.; or
Individuals who have used injectable drugs even once in their lifetime.
Vaccination is currently available to prevent both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Currently there is no vaccine available for the other types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A and B vaccination is now a routine part of childhood immunizations, so it is important to make sure your children have all of their vaccines. Vaccination is also recommended for adults with diabetes; those diagnosed with a clotting factor disorder; if you live with someone who has hepatitis; if you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, HIV or AIDS; if a person injects drugs; and during certain food-borne outbreaks of hepatitis.
The Centers for Disease Control has developed a risk assessment to help you determine if it is recommended that you get tested for hepatitis or receive a vaccination for Hepatitis A and/or B. This risk assessment is confidential, does not ask for personal information that would identify who you are, and takes less than five minutes of your time. This assessment can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/index.htm.
Once you complete the assessment, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss recommended testing and/or vaccination. Carson City Health and Human Services also offers testing by appointment (775-887-2195) and vaccinations on a walk-in basis every Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. For additional information about Health Department services, check out our website at Gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at www.facebook.com/cchhs.