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




Tens of thousands of Coloradans infected--many unaware.


  Hepatitis C-Risk Factors


 Disease Weekly Plus 6/30/97, p16, 2p



Reports that many persons could be at risk of infection by the Hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that infects the liver. Factors which increase a person's risk of infection; Complications which can be realised; When Hepatitis C was identified.





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Section: World News

Hepatitis C



  • Have you received a blood transfusion prior to 1990'?
  • Have you ever used intravenous drugs or intranasal cocaine?
  • Do you have a tattoo or have you had body piercing'?
  • Have you ever shared a razor, toothbrush, or nail file with anyone?
  • Have you ever had unprotected sex with multiple partners'?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk for hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that infects the liver and can cause serious, long-term chronic liver disease and death.

According to Ann Jesse, The Hep C Connection, Denver, Colorado, an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Coloradans are already infected with hepatitis C.

"Thousands more may have the disease and be unaware of it because 75 percent of people infected with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms," said Jesse, who was without symptoms when she was diagnosed during a routine medical checkup in 1994.

As is the case with more than 300,000 other Americans, Jesse suspects her infection was from a blood transfusion that she received prior to 1990. Since 1990, a blood test that detects antibodies to the hepatitis C virus has reduced the risk of being infected with hepatitis C via blood transfusion to less than 1 percent.

"Hepatitis C is a very complex disease and can impact individual patients differently," explained Dr. Gregory Everson, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "About 15 percent of patients will clear the virus from their systems and remain disease free. The remaining 85 percent go on to develop long-term or chronic infection with hepatitis C, which can lead to serious liver disease, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, and death."

Hepatitis C was identified in 1989. ln the United States, it is estimated that only 350,000 of the 4 million people infected with hepatitis C have been diagnosed and reported to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Long delays -- sometimes decades -- in the appearance of symptoms and diagnosis of the disease has resulted in hepatitis C becoming the leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States; it is also the cause of 8,000 deaths in this country each year. This number is expected to triple in the next 10 to 20 years, surpassing the estimated number of deaths due to AIDS.

Because the disease can silently destroy the liver for many years before symptoms occur, Everson has recommended a blood test for anyone who suspects they may have been exposed to hepatitis C.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, and more research is needed to develop one. All people with the disease should seek medical care, which may include alpha intefferon treatments for eligible patients with chronic hepatitis C. In addition, changes in diet and lifestyle - especially the avoidance of alcohol - can significantly reduce the possibility and severity of liver damage for those who are already infected.


To lessen the possibility of infection, it is advisable to use condoms and avoid all contact with other people's blood. Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and nail files with anyone, and make certain that the supplies and equipment used for body piercing and tattooing have been properly sterilized.

Occupations at risk for exposure to blood infected with hepatitis C include healthcare workers, emergency service workers, fire fighters, police officers, paramedics, clinical lab workers, science lab workers, tattooists, beauticians, manicurists, and barbers.

The Hep C Connection provides individuals with hepatitis C and their families with up-to-date medical information, sessions focusing on daily living issues, support groups for open sharing of personal experiences, and a monthly newsletter. The organization also collaborates with major hospitals, universities, pharmaceutical companies, government lobbyists, and public health departments to promote research, legislation, public education, and better diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

For more information, contact The Hep C Connection at 303-393-9395 or 1-800-522-HEPC, or the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Liver Foundation at 1-888-OKLIVER.


Informative Worldwide Briefs ... Sandra W. Key, News Editor, with Daniel J. DeNoon & Salynn Boyles