Theme is "Be Cancerfree" With NoCost Hepatitis B Testing
On Wednesday, February 21, 2007, hundreds of people participated in a fullday program presented by the NYU Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing to offer Hepatitis B screenings and followup vaccinations at no cost to New Yorkers of all ages. Participants also received information and counseling on liver cancer, skin cancer, colonrectal cancer, oral cancer, breast and cervical cancer, testicular and prostate cancer and lung cancer, including smoking cessation. The program was cosponsored by the Bfree NYC Hepatitis B Program and the New York City Council. Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks the liver. Only a blood test can tell for certain if a person has the disease, which can cause infection, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer and death. Risk factors include intravenous drug use, having sex with someone infected with Hepatitis B or with more than one partner, having a job that involves contact with human blood and traveling to areas where Hepatitis B is common. The good news is that if a person has not been previously infected, there is a vaccine that can protect against infection. The process requires three vaccinations over a six to 12month period to take effect.
A special feature of the day’s activities was an educational workshop on Hepatitis B, which drew 111 participants, 76 of whom elected to have their blood screened for the virus. Those who tested positive were asked to come back for nocost vaccinations at the College of Nursing Faculty Practice.
There are over 1.5 million Hepatitis B carriers in the United States, with the highest rates found among Asians, Latinos, Caribbeans, Africans and Eastern Europeans/ Russians. Most people infected with Hepatitis B do not show symptoms or feel sick until it is too late for treatment. As many as one out of four chronically infected people die of liverrelated diseases if they are not under a doctor’s care.