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Tuesday, July 9, 2019
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OFFERS FREE HEPATITIS SCREENINGS
Bunnell, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Health is offering free screenings for Hepatitis during the month of July as part of its expanded hepatitis treatment program. The testing comes as hepatitis rates continue to rise throughout Florida.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.5 to 5.3 million Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis – hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Most individuals living with viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected, placing them at greater risk for severe, even fatal, complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. A specific blood test is the only way to know if you have viral hepatitis.
And Hepatitis C is on the rise: Baby boomers are 75 percent of Hep C cases. That’s because blood products weren’t screened for Hepatitis C before 1992, and many were likely infected when the disease was at its height during the 70s and 80s. The health department encourages resident born between 1945 and 1965 to take advantage of the free screenings, as well as people who have ever injected or snorted recreational drugs.
According to Medical Director Dr. Stephen Bickel, the free screenings will benefit Flagler residents by helping those with chronic hepatitis get the care they need as soon as possible, while giving others peace of mind that they are hepatitis-free. His outlook for treating patients with hepatitis C is encouraging.
“Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed miraculous developments in terms of new and highly effective medications for hepatitis C. The cure rate is much higher these days and efforts have been made to reduce barriers for getting treatment, like exorbitant cost. Our health department is committed to bringing these curative treatments to as many patients as possible regardless of their ability to pay.”
Knowing your status could save your life while also protecting your friends and family.
The free screenings are available by appointment at the Department of Health in Flagler County at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell. Call 386-437-7350 ext. 7091 to schedule your visit.
For more information about hepatitis visit http://flagler.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/infectious-disease-services/hepatitis-education.html.