WIG Recognizes World Hepatitis Day by Launching Updated Hepatitis C Toolkit

(WASHINGTON, DC) – July 21, 2014 - Women In Government (WIG) will recognize World Hepatitis Day (July 28) by urging state and federal lawmakers to enact policies that help address the nationwide hepatitis C epidemic. In honor of this, WIG is launching an updated Hepatitis C Education & Awareness toolkit. The toolkit provides lots of information regarding quick facts about hepatitis C, sample OpEd and press releases, past and present legislation, and what you can do to raise awareness and get tested. 

Known as a “silent epidemic,” hepatitis C affects an estimated 3.2 million Americans – up to 75 percent of whom do not realize they are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The blood-borne virus, which may take years to cause symptoms, is the leading cause of catastrophic liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver transplants.
 
Baby boomers are most at-risk for hepatitis C. These individuals are five times more likely to have hepatitis C and make up 75 percent of American adults living with the virus. Due to this high risk, the CDC and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) have both recommended one-time screening for individuals born between 1945 and 1965, and private insurance plans and Medicare cover such testing.
 
“Hepatitis C is a silent epidemic in our country because a full two percent of Americans are infected, yet the vast majority of these individuals are completely unaware,” said Dyan Alexander, Executive Director of Women In Government. “We need to connect at-risk Americans with testing for hepatitis C so we can raise awareness about the risks of this infectious disease and stop it from spreading.”
 
Alexander continued, “Women In Government supports policies that promote hepatitis C testing for baby boomers and other at-risk individuals, and we encourage our members and other lawmakers to take action to help our nation confront this devastating disease. Unless we act, the CDC predicts that deaths due to hepatitis C will double or even triple in the next 20 years.”
 
Quick diagnostic testing of baby boomers and other at-risk individuals can help reduce the spread of hepatitis C by connecting infected individuals with education and treatment, while improving general awareness of the disease. During the past year, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York passed legislation requiring or recommending that primary care providers offer hepatitis C testing to patients born between 1945 and 1965.  Similar legislation is pending in California, Illinois and Pennsylvania. 
 
Learn more about the epidemic by accessing our toolkit, and spread the word of awareness for World Hepatitis Day next week and stay connected with us via social media on Facebook and Twitter.