Dr. Kenneth Rothstein: November 14, 2016

HEPATITIS C: AN ESTIMATED 3.5 MILLION AMERICANS ARE INFECTED WITH THIS POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING LIVER DISEASE, WITH VETERANS DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED

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Physician: Dr. Kenneth D. Rothstein, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine, and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Drexel University College of Medicine is available to discuss the prevalence, risk factors and importance of testing for chronic hepatitis C infection, as well as the latest scientific advancements in treatment.

Patient: Joe Benko — A veteran and passionate patient advocate who was cured of hepatitis C is available to discuss what it’s like living with the virus, his experience undergoing treatment and the importance of getting tested.

 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), veterans are at three times greater risk of being infected with the hepatitis C virus than the general population, but approximately 45,000 veterans remain undiagnosed. If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver disease, liver cancer and even death.

Hepatitis C is a “silent” disease that often does not have noticeable symptoms for years or even decades, making screening critical – especially for veterans and baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965, two groups that are disproportionately affected.  Due to scientific advancements, hepatitis C can be cured, which means the virus is undetectable in the blood when evaluated three or more months after treatment is completed.

Key Facts:*

·         Approximately 3.5 million people in the United States are living with chronic hepatitis C.1

·         U.S. veterans are at three times greater risk of being infected with the hepatitis C virus than the general population, in which 1.8 percent are infected.4

·         According to the VA, hepatitis C affects approximately 225,000 veterans  – including nearly 1 in 10 Vietnam-era veterans.

·         Hepatitis C was often spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants before the availability of widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992. Now, it is most often spread through contaminated needles from tattoos, needle sticks or intravenous drug use.1

·         Hepatitis C, which is 10 times more infectious than HIV,  led to an estimated 30,500 new infections in 2014.

·         Hepatitis C is the number one cause of liver failure and liver-related death, and is a major cause of liver cancer.1

·         In the U.S., hepatitis C is responsible for more deaths annually (19,659) than HIV as of 2014.8

·         The World Hepatitis Alliance recently launched #NOhep, a global movement to help eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Critical to achieving this goal is increasing awareness of hepatitis C among the approximately 50 percent of hepatitis C-infected people in the U.S. who remain unaware of their infection.

To increase awareness about hepatitis C and the importance of screening, Dr. Kenneth D. Rothstein, a board-certified physician in internal medicine, transplant, hepatology and gastroenterology and Joe Benko, a veteran who was cured of hepatitis C, will provide an overview of the disease, the high prevalence among veterans, and the need for increased testing and treatment for those who are infected. They also can discuss recent scientific advances in treatment options, which have improved rapidly over the past few years and offer some patients a better chance of achieving a cure.

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