~ The American Liver Foundation Kicks Off Hepatitis Awareness Month by Urging Americans to Get Tested and Get Treated

PR Newswire, 05-10-06

NEW YORK, May 10, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- An estimated one-third of the U.S. population becomes infected with hepatitis A during their lifetime, 1.4 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B, and approximately 4 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis C. The American Liver Foundation (ALF) is raising awareness about the risks associated with hepatitis during Hepatitis Awareness Month (observed annually in May) to promote testing and encourage people with hepatitis to get treated now.

Why does hepatitis alarm public-health officials? In the case of hepatitis C, the most common type of hepatitis in the United States, patients who are not treated can develop liver disease, including cirrhosis and cancer; hepatitis C is also the leading cause of liver transplants. There's no vaccine available for hepatitis C, and many people with the disease are unaware that they are infected and have not sought treatment.

"It's important for patients who even think they might be infected to speak to their doctors about being tested and treated as soon as possible for hepatitis C in order to preserve liver health," said Dr. Douglas Dieterich, Professor of Medicine Division of Liver Diseases, Director of CME Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "Some patients with hepatitis C may be waiting for the next generation of treatments, not knowing that new drugs are still many years away and that the disease can become a serious threat to their health in as little as five years."

It is estimated that less than 30 percent of Americans with hepatitis C are aware they carry the viral infection. Screening for the disease involves a simple blood test that detects the presence of hepatitis C antibodies.

"Hepatitis C is four times more prevalent than AIDS. Many people are walking around with the disease, some for 10 or 20 years, without even knowing they have it and losing time when they could be treated successfully," said Frederick Thompson, President and CEO of the American Liver Foundation. "Hepatitis Awareness Month gives us a chance to remind at-risk individuals to be tested and seek treatment right away, helping to prevent further damage to the liver."

If you believe you may be at risk for hepatitis C or would like more information, please call the American Liver Foundation at 800.GO.LIVER (465-4837) or visit http://www.liverfoundation.org.

More About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is transmitted through body fluids, primarily blood or blood products, and by sharing needles. People at risk for contracting hepatitis C are injection drug or intranasal cocaine users, those who received a blood transfusion prior to 1992, health or public safety workers who have been accidentally stuck by a needle and those who have tattoos or body piercings. Vietnam veterans are also at high risk.

About the American Liver Foundation

ALF has 25 chapter offices nationwide. It provides educational workshops and seminars, runs support groups, works with the media to increase the awareness of hepatitis and other liver diseases, and meets with local, state and federal policy makers to affect positive change. ALF supports research primarily in two ways: first, by advocating federal policy makers to secure increases in government funding for liver disease; and second, by directly funding young scientists in order to attract them to the lifelong study of liver disease and patient care. ALF sponsors numerous fundraising events and campaigns to support all of these efforts.

SOURCE The American Liver Foundation

CONTACT: Sarah Spielvogel of Manning Selvage & Lee, +1-212-468-4312,

Sarah.Spielvogel@mslpr.com, for American Liver Foundation; or Lenore Neier of

American Liver Foundation, +1-212-668-1000 x137, LNeier@liverfoundation.org

http://www.liverfoundation.org

URL: http://www.prnewswire.com


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