SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – If you had a disease that could kill you, you’d want to know about it, right? Hepatitis C is treatable if caught early – yet it is the leading infectious cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and is the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States. Three in four of about 3.2 million people who have chronic hepatitis C are baby boomers. Deaths from the virus nearly doubled between 1999 and 2007 to more than 15,000, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many boomers, people age 60 and up, got the disease “back in the day” from unsterile tattoos, experimenting with drugs, or receiving a blood transfusion before screening was improved in 1992. Most have never been tested for the infection, and can remain symptom-free for 20 or 30 years without feeling sick.
When or if symptoms do appear, they are often a sign of serious damage to the liver.
In support of the first annual National Hepatitis Testing Day, the Snohomish Health District will offer free testing for hepatitis C on Friday, May 18 to people at high risk for the virus:
• persons who received transplants, transfusions or other blood products before July 1992
• persons who received clotting factor before 1987 for hemophilia or organ transplants
• persons born to hepatitis C virus-infected women
• persons who use or have used illegal drugs in the past
• persons who received tattoos, piercings or body art with unsterilized equipment
• persons who have sexual contact with an infected person or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
• men who have sex with men
Please walk in between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or call 425.339.5298 to schedule an appointment. Come to Suite 106 in the Rucker Building, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett, Wash.
The test is a finger stick test for those who don’t have a history of injection drug use. Drug users will receive more comprehensive testing. Clients will be contacted regarding test results within three weeks with referrals for more testing and assistance if needed.
For more information about hepatitis C: www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis. The CDC’s national education campaign, “Know More Hepatitis,” is geared to heighten awareness and increase testing for hepatitis.
In 2011, Snohomish County had a total of 705 confirmed cases of hepatitis B and C.
Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health District at www.snohd.org.