Premier Medical Group of the Hudson Valley will be observing World Hepatitis Day (July 28) by urging baby boomers and other at-risk people to get screened for viral hepatitis, which is the leading cause of liver damage, cirrhosis and liver cancer. This “silent epidemic” affects more than 5 million Americans, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 75 percent of these individuals do not realize they are infected because symptoms can take years to develop. While difficult to test in the past, hepatitis C can be eliminated and cured in up to 95% of people with pills only.
The CDC estimates that more than 30 percent of individuals who are chronically infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease or liver cancer. Baby boomers are most at-risk for hepatitis C. These individuals, born between 1945 and 1965, are five times more likely to have the hepatitis C and make up 75 percent of American adults living with the virus. One in twelve Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has chronic hepatitis B, and the rates are increasing in African immigrants and Latinos as well. Without early diagnosis or intervention, one in four individuals with chronic hepatitis B infection will develop liver cancer or will have liver failure.
“Hepatitis is a growing public health crisis in the United States, yet the vast majority of those who are infected do not even realize they are living with a potentially deadly disease,” said Premier Gastroenterologist / Hepatologist – Dr. Peter Varunok. “World Hepatitis Day is a critical opportunity for people – particularly baby boomers and other at-risk populations – to get tested, protect their health, and help stem the tide of this silent epidemic.”
Premier would like to encourage the community to join us in this observance by learning more about viral hepatitis, getting tested if appropriate for you, and sharing what you know with others.