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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 25 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 30
Umoja Fest hepatitis screenings for World Hepatitis Day
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Umoja Fest hepatitis screenings for World Hepatitis Day

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Multicultural HIV/Hepatitis Action Network will provide HIV and hepatitis information and screenings at Seattle's annual Umoja Fest on August 2.

The screenings will help to mark National African-American Hepatitis C Action Day and World Hepatitis Day, and will be held from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Judkins Park, 1119 23rd Ave. S.

Multicultural HIV/Hepatitis Action Network identifies its mission as ending the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis within communities of color through prevention, education, and advocacy.

Hepatitis is a condition involving inflammation of the liver, caused by one of five unrelated viruses, usually identified by letters A through E.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by ingesting infected fecal matter or by very close contact with an infected patient. There is no treatment, apart from rest, but it is effectively prevented by a vaccine and by proper food prep and sanitary practices.

According to the King County Public Health Department, ten cases of hepatitis A were reported in 2012, all of which were in adults ages 18 and over. Two of these cases required hospitalization, but none died.

Four cases were associated with international travel to Asia (1 case), Mexico (1 case), or Central and South America (2 cases). Three cases had no identified risk factors, two cases required hospitalization, and none died.

In 2011, a cluster of nine hepatitis A cases occurred among methamphetamine injection drug users and their contacts in East King County, with one additional linked case in another county.

Prior to the introduction of the hepatitis A vaccine in 1995, hundreds of cases occurred every year in King County, with cyclical peaks approximately every five years. Since the introduction of hepatitis A vaccine in 1995, cases have progressively declined locally and nationally.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by contact with infected blood, semen, and vaginal fluids, and may also be present in saliva, tears, and urine of chronic patients. It is also preventable with a vaccine.

Eleven cases of acute hepatitis B virus infection were reported to King County Public Health in 2012, all in adults, and 82% of them men. Fifty five percent of the cases were suspected to have been exposed to hepatitis B through either sexual activity or injection drug use. One third of the cases were hospitalized but none died.

Six hundred and seventy three cases of chronic hepatitis B were reported in 2012. Fifty percent were in men.

Thirty-four percent of the newly reported female cases were pregnant and were enrolled in King County's Perinatal Hepatitis B Prevention Program. The program's goal is to prevent hepatitis B in infants born to infected women by ensuring these infants receive appropriate preventive treatment.

A total of 239 infants were born to women with hepatitis B in 2012, and an additional 128 infants were born to women reported with hepatitis B prior to 2012.

Since chronic HBV infection became reportable in Washington state in December 2000, the number of reports in King County has ranged from 400 to 878 each year. Reports of acute HBV cases in King County and nationally have been declining since the 1980s when hepatitis B vaccine became widely available.

Hepatitis C is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, primarily through intravenous drug use in the United States, but also from poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions in developing countries.

In 2012, 1,317 chronic and four acute cases of hepatitis C infection were reported in King County. Acute infections typically account for less than 1% of all HCV reports each year in King County. Between six and 12 reports of acute HCV infection are received annually, compared to 1,000 to 2,000 reports of chronic HCV.

Each year in Washington state some 5,000 to 6,000 cases of chronic hepatitis C are reported.

Hepatitis D is a special case, because it can only reproduce in the presence of hepatitis B viruses, and it is transmitted in the same ways. This virus is rare in developed countries, and no cases have been reported in King County in recent years.

Hepatitis E is also rare in developed countries, and is spread through contact with fecal matter contaminating water and food supplies.

One case of hepatitis E was reported in King County in 2012, in an adult exposed in India. The individual was not hospitalized and recovered. The only other cases of hepatitis infection reported in the past ten years were a probable case in 2005 and a confirmed case in 2006, both in travelers exposed in India.

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