LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed Tuesday, May 19, 2009, World Hepatitis Day, in order to bring awareness to the local prevalence of this dangerous virus.
"In Los Angeles County, it is estimated that more than 134,000 individuals are infected with hepatitis C. This means there are now more than double the cases of chronic hepatitis C than of HIV and AIDS* in LA County," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "Hepatitis C is not vaccine- preventable, and it can lead to liver disease and even death. It is important that those at risk for hepatitis C get tested, and seek treatment if necessary." Hepatitis is a group of viral infections that attack the liver. The most common types are hepatitis A, B, and C. Toxins, certain drugs, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Worldwide, an estimated 500 million people are chronically infected with either hepatitis B or C, and an estimated 1.5 million people are killed by these viruses. Many people are unaware they are infected with either virus.
Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food or water, and typically carries milder symptoms than B or C. It does not lead to chronic liver disease or liver cancer. Hepatitis B is easily transmitted through unprotected sex, sharing of needles or razors, or by an infected mother to her child through birth. Untreated, this virus can lead to chronic liver disease or liver cancer. Both A and B are vaccine-preventable.
For more information about upcoming hepatitis screenings through the Asian Pacific Liver Center, please visit http://www.asianpacificlivercenter.org/Pages/default.aspx, or call (888) 236-2752. For general information about hepatitis, prevention, including referrals for free or low- cost vaccines, and treatment, please visit the LA County Department of Public Health website at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/aids/Hepatitis.htm.
*There are an estimated 56,000 to 62,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS in LA County.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.