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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

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CDC fact sheet "Do you know about hepatitis C in the African American Community?"

African Americans represent 12% of the U.S. population, but make up about 22% of the chronic Hepatitis C cases.

February is Black History Month. This annual celebration is a time set aside to commemorate the achievements by African Americans and to educate the American people about the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. This month also presents an opportunity to educate the public and health professionals about serious health problems within the African American community, including the Hepatitis C virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C and the best way to prevent the virus is by avoiding behaviors that can spread it. For those already infected, early detection can save lives.

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen from sharing equipment for injecting drugs, receiving blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, getting a needlestick injury in health care settings, and even being born to a mother who has Hepatitis C. And some people don’t know how they got infected.

While African Americans represent only 12% of the U.S. population, they make up about 22% of the chronic Hepatitis C cases. In fact, African Americans have a substantially higher rate of chronic Hepatitis C infection than do Caucasians and other ethnic groups. Within the African American community, men in their 50’s show the highest rates of infection with 1 in 7 men living with chronic hepatitis C.

Although hepatitis is a serious health problem within the African American community, too few African Americans at risk get tested. Fortunately, a simple blood test can determine if a person has ever been exposed to the virus. And early detection can save lives.

Share with your friends and family what you have learned about Hepatitis C. If you think you have been exposed to the virus, talk to your doctor or health care provider about getting tested.

For more information about Hepatitis C, go to