Monday, November 25, 2013

Teaming Up with the Viral Hepatitis Program

by Andrés Guerrero

Recently, the Viral Hepatitis Program at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment joined the STI/HIV Section to better serve people with risk factors for hepatitis, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections (STI). By bringing our programs together we will be able to:

  • Share resources 
  • Combine awareness efforts 
  • Offer more testing
  • Be more effective at preventing the spread of these viruses in Colorado. 

It makes sense for the STI/HIV and Hepatitis programs to work together.  If someone is at risk for HIV, they are probably also at risk for hepatitis B or C. For example, HIV and hepatitis C can both be spread by sharing injecting equipment like syringes. And hepatitis B and HIV can be spread by unsafe sexual contact with an infected person.  An HIV/STI and Hepatitis Section allows us to provide a “one stop shop” for people at risk of one or more of these infections.

What is hepatitis?  

The word hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are a variety of viruses that cause this inflammation, but the most common are the hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C viruses. These viruses are passed from one person to another, each one causing a different infection. To learn more about these infections, including transmission and vaccination information, check out the CDC’s Viral Hepatitis page.

What does the Hepatitis Section do? 

Hepatitis B and C continue to be among the most commonly reported viral infections in Colorado. The Viral Hepatitis Program is here to answer questions and provide information. The Program staff also link people to community resources such as testing services, support groups and websites related to viral hepatitis.  We offer free Hepatitis C tests for anyone who:

  • Was born between 1945 and 1965. 
  • Has ever injected drugs, even if it was years ago and only once; you received blood or blood products before 1992. 
  • Has ever received blood outside of the US .
  • Has had a sexual partner who with Hepatitis C. 
  • Ever received a tattoo or piercing in jail or prison.

If you meet any of these risk factors, please visit Hep C Connection’s website to find a testing site near you, and call to schedule a free test.

Our Program also helps pregnant women who are infected with hepatitis B prevent the spreading of the virus to their newborn infant at birth.  For women that carry the virus during their pregnancy, the Program assures that the baby gets a hepatitis B vaccine at birth and that the woman’s household and sexual contacts are also offered free testing and vaccination.

For more information about the services offered by CPHE's Hepatitis Program contact .
Thanks for reading!

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