It’s estimated that as much as 25% of people infected with HIV are also infected with Hepatitis C. If you are at risk for either disease, it’s important to be tested for both so that appropriate treatment can be given as necessary – which is why May has been declared Hepatitis Awareness Month. Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis (Hepatitis C) without knowing it; find out your status this Hepatitis Testing Day, May 19.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection affecting the liver. It currently affects about 3.2 million Americans and can result in permanent liver damage and lifelong disease. However, the initial symptoms of Hep-C are often subtle and easily ignored, making it possible for many people to have the virus without knowing it – leaving them at risk of greater liver damage.
The good news is that there are many treatments that can halt damage to your liver and greatly improve quality of life, reducing life-long risks of living with Hepatitis.
Why is the Risk High Among HIV+ People?
Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus, meaning that it is spread in many of the same ways as HIV. Injection drug users sharing needles is a leading cause of coinfection with HIV and Hepatitis C. Additionally, the immune-suppression caused by HIV can lead to greater liver damage from Hep-C than in an otherwise healthy person. For this reason, it is very important for all HIV+ people to be screened for Hep-C so that proper treatment can begin.
UNM Truman Health Services offers Hepatitis C testing in addition to our free rapid HIV testing. Call us at 505-272-1312 to schedule your test! The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get the medical help you need to live a long, healthy life regardless of your HIV and Hepatitis status!