The Orange County Health Department (OCHD) is recognizing May as National Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 as National Hepatitis Testing Day. The intent of these annual observances is to raise awareness about the global impact of viral hepatitis and the importance of preventing hepatitis-related liver disease, including liver cancer.
The Orange County Health Department’s Hepatitis Prevention Program works to educate and encourage people to get tested and get vaccinated to help prevent hepatitis infection. It is important for people to get tested because if left undetected, hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure.
The Hepatitis Prevention Program will be providing free hepatitis testing and hepatitis vaccines during World Hepatitis Testing Day on May 18 from 8:00am – 11:30am at the Orange County Health Department located at 832 West Central Blvd. Orlando, first floor.
“Hepatitis A and B are vaccine preventable. Adults should be aware of their risk and get vaccinated to prevent this disease,” said Dr. Kevin M. Sherin, Director of the Orange County Health Department.
Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States. Symptoms of hepatitis, if they are present, include nausea, fever, weakness, loss of appetite and jaundice. Hepatitis A is transmitted by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with human waste (feces). Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Hepatitis C is usually spread through contact with blood containing the virus. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C (HCV).
One in 12 people worldwide have viral hepatitis B or C. More than 18,335 Orange County residents are infected with hepatitis C, and up to two-thirds are unaware of their infection. Approximately 4,583 residents of Orange County are living with chronic hepatitis B.
For information or assistance on this program, please contact Lori Theisen at 407-858-1400 extension 1135 or visit www.orchd.com/generalHealth/epidemiology/hepatitisPrevention/index.asp.