An uptick in rates of the hepatitis virus has attracted new attention to May as Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 as Hepatitis Testing Day. Hepatitis is a growing concern not only nationwide but in Riverside County as well.
Hepatitis is a virus that shows itself in three forms: Hepatitis A (HAV,) Hepatitis B (HBV,) and Hepatitis C (HCV.) All forms prey on the liver and can lead to liver cancer … but each has different causes and modes of transmission. The common element across all three forms is that many people, who are in the position to pass it on, don’t even know they have it.
That’s precisely why we test for Hepatitis, as well as HIV at The Dock, our new sexual health clinic, located on the southeast corner of D.A.P.’s main campus. We test, we treat, and we immediately connect our patients with counseling and care that’s both compassionate and confidential.
Regardless of whether it’s Hepatitis Awareness Month or Hepatitis Testing Day … or any other day of the year … the door to treatment at The Dock is open from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, no appointment necessary. In addition, the clinic also offers treatment and testing for HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and human papillomavirus (HPV.) Well-Woman services at The Dock also include breast and pelvic exams, as well as pap smears.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) about 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HBV while 3.2 million have HCV. Rates for both forms of the Hepatitis virus had been falling locally, but they’re rising again along with a noticeable jump in cases among women. This, according to the county’s 2013 Communicable Disease Report, which also tells us that “Hep C” is the second most prevalent sexually transmitted infection reported in Riverside County – estimating that an alarming 60-70% of chronic Hep C cases will develop chronic liver disease and require liver transplants.
Widespread use of Hep B vaccine has helped curb the spread of that strain. And Hep C is now treatable with drug therapies that aren’t as harsh as they once were. Nevertheless, Riverside County faces challenges in lowering rates of Hep C.
“The Healthy People 2020 objective for acute hepatitis C is 0.2 new cases per 100,000 county residents,” the report says. “Riverside County did not achieve this goal, with 0.3 cases per 100,000 residents in 2013.”
The Dock at Desert AIDS Project aims to reverse that trend.
Made possible by funding from Desert Healthcare District/Echo posible por media de fondos de Desert Healthcare District