July 28, 2014 is World Hepatitis Day. Coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance and recognized by the World Health Organization, the past themes have been “get tested” and “This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.” The mission of World Hepatitis Day is to raise awareness on the epidemic and educate on how to prevent viral hepatitis, to increase hepatitis B vaccine coverage, and to coordinate a global response to hepatitis.
Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer. In the U.S., an estimated 4.4 million people are unaware they are living with hepatitis and one million people die every year from the illness. According to a press release dated January 18th, 2005 from Senator Schumer’s office, data shows Hepatitis C is growing in prevalence on Long Island. In 2004, Suffolk County identified 7,000 residents as having Hepatitis C while the Nassau County Department of Health reported 4,364 cases of chronic Hepatitis C. This year, there was a new public health law in New York requiring that health care providers offer hepatitis C screening test to every individual born between 1945-1965. Individuals born during these years in the U.S. represent three fourths of all Hepatitis C infections. The federal government created a Viral Hepatitis Action Plan for 2014-2016 that will detail the steps agencies will take to prevent hepatitis and ensure care and treatment resources are available for those in need.
In recognition of World Hepatitis Day 2014, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care (LIAAC) will provide free and rapid hepatitis C testing in Long Island’s communities through mobile outreach. LIAAC will also launch Hepatitis education initiatives on the illness affecting 300,000 people in New York State and Long Island.