MASON CITY – Cerro Gordo Public Health is hosting a free hepatitis C testing day for baby boomers (those born from 1945-1965) and people with a history of injection drug use. Testing will be held at CG Public Health from 9AM-4PM on Monday, May 24th. Appointments are required. Schedule your appointment by dialing 641-421-9300. Though testing will be free for qualified individuals during this event, the United States Preventative Task Force recommend a one-time screening for all adults aged 18 to 79 for Hepatitis C even if you are not symptomatic.
Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. Most people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected. Since many people can live with hepatitis C for decades without symptoms or feeling sick, testing is critical so those who are infected can get treated and cured.
“Hepatitis C can be treated and cured,” said Sam Severson, RN disease prevention specialist at CG Public Health. “If left undetected or untreated, the damage to the liver can be fatal. We are really hoping that eligible people in our county will take advantage of this testing opportunity.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3 out of 4 people with hepatitis C were born from 1945-1965. The reason behind this is unknown, however most people born in this time period are believed to have become infected in the 1960s-1980s when transmission of hepatitis C was highest.
Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. An individual could have gotten infected from medical equipment, or procedures before universal precautions and infection control procedures were adopted. Others could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening virtually eliminated the virus from the blood supply by 1992. Sharing needles or equipment used to prepare or inject drugs, even if only once in the past, could spread hepatitis C. Still, many people do not know how or when they were infected.