July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. This year the World Hepatitis Alliance is launching a campaign to “find the missing millions” – which is in reference to the estimated 290 million undiagnosed people living with viral hepatitis worldwide.
There are 5 different types of viral hepatitis (which you can read more about here), but this month BCAP is focusing on Hepatitis C (HCV). HCV disproportionately impacts baby boomers born between 1945-1965, people who inject, and people who received tattoos or piercings in an unregulated environment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 3.5 million persons living with HCV in the US. Most of these people don’t yet know that they are living with the virus.
Of all people living with HCV, 3 in 4 were born between 1945-1965. HCV is a durable virus, able to stay active outside the body for up to 2 weeks, and spread through blood-to-blood contact. Some people may have been exposed through medical equipment and procedures before universal precautions were adopted. Screening for HCV in blood or blood products didn’t become standard until 1992. Another common transmission route is through sharing drug snorting or injection equipment that comes into contact with the blood of someone already living with virus.
Screening for HCV is not included in routine blood work. The only way to know if you’ve been exposed to HCV is to get tested. BCAP will be offering free, confidential HCV antibody testing on July 27 between 10am-5pm, and walk-ins are welcome! To find out more about HCV or to make a testing appointment, call BCAP at 303-444-6121.