Bay Area Commemorates World Hepatitis Day


World Hepatitis Day is an annual event, held on Monday, July 28, is designed to raise awareness and influence real change in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment.

People of color, especially African Americans and Latinos have lower response rates to treatment, compared to other groups.

Hepatitis is the name of viral infections that affect the liver. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Although each type of the disease can cause similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses and have different modes of transmission and can affect the liver differently.

Diana Sylvestre with Senator Carole Migden
Diana Sylvestre with Senator Carole Migden

World Hepatitis Day was launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance in 2008 in response to the concern that the chronic viral hepatitis did not have the level of awareness, nor the political priority seen with other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Every year, World Hepatitis Day gets bigger and bigger. Here in the Bay Area, the Oasis Clinic will be hanging a huge banner over the University Avenue overpass of I-880.

According to Dr. Diana Sylvestre, Oasis executive director, “We did a banner years ago, and people were honking. This year, the banner will be bigger.”

Hepatitis treatment has advanced quickly recently, but the issue is still about awareness, says Sylvestre. “Getting people in the door” is the problem, she says. “OASIS clinic is always available for testing.”

On Friday, July 25, the first African American Hepatitis Awareness Day Block Party will be held at Casa Segura Drop-in Center at 5323 Foothill Blvd. in Oakland from noon 3 p.m.

The event will feature catered food, jerk chicken, raffles, prizes, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis screenings and information on health.

Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. People with Hepatitis A usually improve with no treatment.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can also begin as acute infections, but in some people, the virus remains in the body, resulting in chronic disease and long-term liver problems. There are vaccines to prevent Hepatitis A and B. However there are no vaccines for Hepatitis C.

If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types.

Chronic Hep C is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and most common reason for liver transplants in the US. Approximately 15,000 people die every year from Hep. Between 75 percent and 85 percent of people who become infected with Hep C virus develop a chronic infection.

An estimated 3.2 million persons in the United States have chronic Hep C infection. Most people don’t know they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.

Hep C is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing or sneezing. It is not spread through food or water. People with chronic Hep C should be monitored early by an experienced doctor.

There are several medications available to treat chronic Hep C, including new treatments that appear to be more effective and have fewer side effects than previous options.

About one quarter of all people in the US living with HIV are also infected with HCV.

For more info contact OASIS Clinic (510) 834-5442 or HEPPAC at (510) 457-4022.



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