In observance of National Hepatitis Testing Day, the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center will host a free hepatitis health fair in conjunction with Walgreens, GlenLake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and other community partners. The event will take place on Thursday, May 19, in the lobby of the County Building, 18 N. County Street in Waukegan, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Program staff will provide information and education about hepatitis B and C prevention, care and treatment. Free blood pressure screenings will be offered. Participants can also receive general information related to overall health and wellbeing. Free hepatitis C and HIV tests will be offered at the Lake County Health Department Sexually Transmitted Infections program’s office the day of the event, 2400 Belvidere Road in Waukegan. Please call 847-377-8450 for more information.
The Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Infections program provides counseling and resources, as well as a monthly support group for people infected with hepatitis C.
CDC is recommending that everyone born between 1945 and 1965, also known as the baby boomers generation, get a blood test for hepatitis C. This recommendation calls for one-time testing of baby boomers.
Health officials estimate that one in 12 people worldwide are living with either chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and that one in three people have been exposed to both viruses. Hepatitis can be spread by:
• sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs and needle stick injuries
• sharing personal care items that have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
• having sexual contact with an infected person
Symptoms of hepatitis C, which include yellowing of the skin or eyes, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fever, extreme fatigue and stomach pain, can take up to 20 years to appear; many people live with the infection but are unaware of their status. Chronic hepatitis 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, liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. Hepatitis C can be successfully treated with medications and cured. Currently, there are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C.
The Health Department’s Sexually Transmitted Infections Program, along with several other programs, is working to reduce the incidence of infectious diseases in alignment with the Health Department’s strategic plan goals. Located at 2400 Belvidere Road in Waukegan, it offers sexually transmitted infections screening, treatment and hepatitis vaccines; other services including counseling, education, free and confidential HIV testing, educational based support/talk groups; and outreach. For additional information or to make an appointment, call: (847) 377-8450 or visit: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/1897/Sexually-Transmitted-InfectionHIV-Preven.