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Latino Community Rallies to Generate Awareness of Viral Hepatitis

Posted May 14 2013 9:30am

By Bethsy Morales-Reid , Director, National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day

Bethsy Morales-Reid

Bethsy Morales-Reid

During May’s observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month , we also mark National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day Exit Disclaimer (NHHAD). Both of these events highlight the importance of strengthening efforts to address hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among Latinos. NHHAD is a national community mobilization and social marketing campaign that unites the Hispanic/Latino community in efforts to raise awareness about viral hepatitis; promote hepatitis C testing, prevention and education; and bring attention to other related critical health issues such as HIV co-infection and alcohol use.

Hepatitis C in the U.S.: Key Facts

Viral hepatitis is a silent epidemic in the United States and more than 3 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis C, according to the CDC . Over time, chronic hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. Every year, thousands of Americans die from liver disease associated with viral hepatitis. Despite these statistics, viral hepatitis is not well known. In fact, as many as 75 percent of people with chronic viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected. Without knowing they are infected, these individuals cannot take steps to stay healthy or access lifesaving care and treatment. Read more about viral hepatitis from CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis .

Latinos and Hepatitis C

As one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S., the health concerns of Latinos are the health concerns of the nation. Several studies suggest that hepatitis C is one of those key concerns.

Let’s Talk About Hepatitis

Let's Talk About Hepatitis! NHHAADAn essential first step to addressing the impact of hepatitis C in the Latino community is raising awareness – talking about what hepatitis C is, how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented, why screening is important, and what treatments are available. So this year’s NHHAD theme is “Let’s Talk About Hepatitis” or “Hablemos sobre la Hepatitis”.

NHHAD’s organizers – The Latino Commission on AIDS and its local, regional and national partners – want to leverage this theme to support capacity building among Hispanic-serving community-based organizations, faith-based communities, and local health departments to provide hepatitis C testing, awareness, prevention and education services.

Ways to Participate

Everyone can play a role in NHHAD; indeed, we need everyone to help raise awareness of the impact of hepatitis C in the Latino community and educate others about what can be done. Here are some ideas of ways you could join us in this observance:

  1. Take this 5-minute online hepatitis risk assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report on hepatitis testing and vaccination recommendations that you can discuss with a healthcare provider.
  2. Highlight NHHAD in your organization by sending an email to all stakeholders educating them about this issue or holding a short information session.
  3. Join other partners in your community in organizing a health fair focusing on overall health wellness and educate people about hepatitis C. Invite a local health care provider to speak about hepatitis C screening and where people in your community can access it.
  4. Simply share this information with a friend or colleague…talk about hepatitis C.

The observance of NHHAD is among the important steps being taking by governmental and non-governmental partners across the nation to achieve the goals of the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis . This month’s observances of Hepatitis Awareness Month and National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day—along with Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19 – are making important contributions to the Action Plan’s priority of educating healthcare providers and communities to reduce viral hepatitis-related health disparities and to raising awareness about hepatitis C among Latinos across the nation.


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