Hepatitis Awareness Month: What Homelessness Assistance Providers Need to Know
Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne infection in the U.S. with an estimated 2.7-3.9 million people chronically infected. Although the extent of hepatitis C infection among homeless populations remains largely unknown, studies done in the Los Angeles area revealed rates of infection ranging from 22 percent – 31 percent. Rates of hepatitis C among the homeless population overall are believed to be high compared to the U.S. general population in which the prevalence is estimated to be 1.9 percent.
Risk factors among the study participants included injection drug use, non-injection drug use, unprotected sex with multiple partners, and histories of mental illness and incarceration, which are also important considerations in evaluating hepatitis C infection risk.
Although there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, there are treatments that can eliminate the virus and greatly reduce liver disease, liver transplantation and deaths related to chronic hepatitis C. People at risk for hepatitis C should be tested and linked into care for their chronic condition and should be evaluated for hepatitis C treatment. Education and risk reduction counseling can also reduce the chance of people being exposed to hepatitis C which is primarily spread through contact with infected blood. Learn more about hepatitis C and other types of viral hepatitis by downloading the ABCs of Viral Hepatitis fact sheet: ABCs of Viral Hepatitis fact sheet.
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19th is National Hepatitis Testing Day!
The CDC has developed a number of resources to help raise awareness and link people into testing for Hepatitis C:
Hepatitis Awareness Month & Hepatitis Testing Day Resources:
Help spread the word by using the resources found on the CDC’s Hepatitis Awareness Month and Testing Day Resource Center page. You can also order color posters and print fact sheets and other ready-to-use materials from the CDC-Info Publications page.
Hepatitis Testing Day Event Page:
The National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)-sponsored Hepatitis Testing Day Event page is back! If you are hosting an event, please register your event. Once events are registered people can search for testing events in their area by entering their zip code.
Hepatitis Risk Assessment:
Support Hepatitis Testing Day by continuing to promote the Hepatitis Risk Assessment by downloading buttons, badges, or banner ads to feature on your website and sending out the risk assessment e-card to your constituents.
Hepatitis Education Materials:
NPIN’s catalogue has viral hepatitis education materials in its searchable materials database. Materials are available free of charge and include training manuals, webinars, downloadable fact sheets, and PDFs of posters.
The University of Washington’s Seattle STD/HIV Prevention Center has a number of resources posted on its website, including health educator self-paced learning modules relevant for homeless providers such as Counseling the Patient with Chronic Hepatitis B Infection and Counseling the Patient with Hepatitis C Infection.
The CDC Funded Training Center for Viral Hepatitis webinar list includes:
The ABC’s of Hepatitis – Information for the Front Line Worker
What Every Outreach Worker Should Know about Hepatitis C Treatment
Long-term Complications of Hepatitis
Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Hepatitis C for Front-line Workers