on hepatitis C
In recognition of National Hepatitis Awareness Month this month, the Hepatitis Prevention, Education, Treatment and Support Network of Hawaii is trying to inform communities about local hepatitis resources.
Ken Akinaka, co-founder of the network, said it is working with Aloha United Way to add hepatitis resources to Hawaii's information and referral number.
Residents with questions about hepatitis may call 211 free any time. An Aloha United Way information and referral specialist will provide referrals to services. All calls are confidential.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver that can lead to permanent liver problems, including cirrhosis or scarring and liver failure.
About 4 million Americans are believed to be infected with the virus, making it the most common, chronic, blood-borne infection in the nation, according to the network.
No vaccine is available against hepatitis C, and people may not know they have it until liver damage occurs.
The disease is spread mainly through the blood. Major risk factors include using injection drugs, sharing injection equipment or receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before safer procedures began in 1992.
The network stresses the importance of being checked out for hepatitis C and its risk factors, and urges people to talk to their doctors for more information.
A hepatitis C test kit also is available for purchase from the Home Access Health Corp. Web site: www.homeaccess.com. The service also has trained counselors to provide callers with information about the virus.