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KNOW THE ABCs

- Preventing Hepatitis Starts with Awareness and Knowing What to Do to Reduce the Risk of Disease -

On the day set aside globally to highlight the risks of hepatitis, the Health Unit wants to drive home awareness locally of the disease.

World Hepatitis Day is this Friday (July 28), and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is highlighting the importance of prevention, testing and treatment for hepatitis.

“Hepatitis is a serious virus that may lead to liver failure, cancer or cirrhosis. Hepatitis often goes undetected, meaning people can unknowingly spread the disease to others,” says Blair Michno, a Public Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “If you think you may be at risk of hepatitis, ask to be tested so that you can get the appropriate medical follow-up and treatment.”

The three types of hepatitis are:

Hepatitis A which is spread through close contact with an infected person, or by consuming Hep A-contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B that is passed on through infected blood and other body fluids.

Hepatitis C which is passed on through blood-to-blood contact.

Hep B and C varieties are particularly worrisome, according to Michno, because they can lead to serious liver disease problems in people. Typically, people can get Hepatitis B and C by sharing needles, pipes, unsterile body piercing and tattoo equipment, and personal hygiene items such as razors. Hepatitis B and C can also be spread by having unprotected sex and through blood transfusions done prior to 1992.

To prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C, the Health Unit advises against sharing drug equipment such as needles, avoid having unprotected sex, and not sharing personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, nail clippers and razors. The Health Unit supplies free safe injection and inhalation kits to reduce the spread of infections like hepatitis.

Getting vaccinated for Hepatitis B is also recommended. Although no vaccine exists for Hepatitis C, medical advances mean this strain of the disease is treatable and curable in most cases when detected early. To learn more about hepatitis testing and treatment options, speak to your health care provider or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577.

For media inquiries, contact:

Blair Michno, Public Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or toll-free: 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1276.

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