World Hepatitis Day is July 28th and The Oasis Clinic sponsored an event at Snow Park, 20th and Harrison Streets, from 2 – 6pm. The event included music, raffles, fun times, and free Hepatitis screening and testing.
There are 5 known Hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D, E – but Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is the most common chronic blood-born infection in the United States; and a leading cause of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. An estimated three percent of the world’s population is chronically infected with hepatitis C, including four million people in the United States.
Withimprovements in screening and revolutionary treatments on the rice, early detection of the virus can save lives. African Americans are twice as likely to be infected with HCV a lack of knowledge and awareness in the black community causes people not to get tested.
“I wasn’t ready for reality,” said Orlando Chavez, a HCV survivor.
He was diagnosed with the disease in 1999 while dealing with drug and substance and because of his lack of awareness of the disease, doctors were only able to catch it in his final stages; they gave him 5-7 years to live.
Chavez said he noticed the ones that sought out treatment had healthier outcomes compared to the others that “just faded away”.
In 2005, Chavez was deemed HVC free and has made it his mission to advocate for Hepatitis Awareness in the Black community. He remembers the side effects stemming from HVC – extreme fatigue, skin rashes, low red blood cell levels – and is extremely happy with the improvement in treatment and medication that allows the side effects to be more tolerable.
Stewart Cooper, MD, and world renowned Hepatitis Specialist practices at Bay Area Sutter Pacific Medical Foundations and oversees leading HVC research. He says he’s excited about the new improvements in treatment.
According to Cooper, by 2014, HVC treatment will be on an entirely new level. Treatments that normally last 48 weeks with excruciating side effects is now expected to “cut to 12 weeks with treatment promising 95% success”.
“It may put me out of a job,” Cooper laughed.
For more information about The Oasis Clinic, visit www.oasiccliniconline.org or call 510. 834.5442.