July 28 is being observed this year as World Hepatitis Day. This annual event is spearheaded by the World Health Organization, which seeks to eliminate this disease world-wide.
This troubling, sometimes contagious inflammation of the liver is caused by a virus in most cases. It comes in different forms. Chronic hepatitis C can cause serious complications, including liver failure and liver cancer. There are effective treatments for the virus, however. Learn more: WebMD has an informative slide show about causes, risk factors, treatment and prevention.
One of these risk factors can be of considerable concern to a signifiant segment of the US population: in 2012, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) released new guidelines recommending that people born from 1945-1965 get a one-time blood test for Hepatitis C. Rates of Hepatitis C in this age group are 5 times higher than other adults. In the past, blood tests for Hepatitis C have not usually been included in routine physicals. If you are in this age group, you may wish to speak with your provider about this.
You can learn about this and other Hepatitis risk factors by taking also take an interactive 5 minute risk assessment developed by the CDC.