East Hawaii News

Free Hepatitis Screening Offered on Monday, May 20

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In an effort to stem the “silent epidemic,” the state Department of Health will offer free hepatitis screenings statewide on Monday, May 20, as part of National Hepatitis Testing Day.

According to state health officials, between 1% and 3% percent of people in Hawaii have hepatitis B, and approximately 23,000 are living with hepatitis C.

The disease is the most common known cause of liver cancer in Hawaii, and Hawaii has the highest rate of liver cancer in the United States.

“Often called the silent epidemic, most people with hepatitis B or C don’t have symptoms for many years,” said Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “People with hepatitis B and C shouldn’t wait until they feel sick to be tested because there are many things, including treatment, they can do to take care of themselves before they become ill.

“The earlier people know they have hepatitis, the better the outcome,” Fuddy said.

 Hepatitis B and C are spread through contact with blood and body fluids.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that anyone who has been exposed to blood through needle use, blood transfusion, non-sterile equipment or tattooing should be tested for both hepatitis B and C.

Also, anyone born in a country with high rates of hepatitis B, especially countries in Asia and the Pacific, should be screened for hepatitis B.

Anyone born from 1945-1965 (“baby boomers”) should also get a one-time test for hepatitis C, regardless of any known risk.

“If you are at risk, you should ask your doctor to get tested for hepatitis B or C,” Fuddy said. “Putting off this simple test now can have dangerous health implications later on, such as liver disease and cancer.”

Free screening locations on the Big Island include:

  • Waiakea Health Center at 191 Kuawa St. in Hilo, for hepatitis B and C. Call 974-4247 for an appointment.
  • Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation at 16-204 Melekahiwa Pl., #1, in Keaau, for hepatitis C only. Open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 982-8800 for information.
  • Hawaii Island HIV/AIDS Foundation at 75-240 Nani Kailua Dr., #5, in Kailua-Kona, for hepatitis C only. Open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 331-8177 for information.

Testing will be based on eligibility and availability at each site.

Individuals without insurance also may call Aloha United Way 211.

For more information about National Hepatitis Testing Day, go to www.cdcnpin.org/HTD.

For more information about hepatitis resources and events in Hawaii, go to www.hepfreehawaii.org.


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