CDC issues significant update to Hepatitis B screenings
MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Earlier this month the CDC issued a significant update to hepatitis b screenings and testing recommendations for all adults.
According to the CDC, people with chronic Hepatitis B virus infection are at increased risk for liver cancer and cirrhosis and are 70% to 85% more likely to die prematurely than the general population.
“Every year 600,000 people in the United States die of complications of cirrhosis or liver cancer that is directly related to Hepatitis B infection,” said Midland Memorial Hospital Infectious Disease Dr. James Richardson.
Dr. Richardson says many people may not know they’ve been infected.
The CDC now advises a Hepatitis B screening for all adults at least once in their lifetime.
“What these new CDC guidelines are meant to do is to recognize that there is a lot of silent infections with Hepatitis B. People don’t have any symptoms when they have it but indeed it is causing a problem with your liver so the CDC recognizes this is a silent disease that we can do something about,” said Dr. Richardson.
Hepatitis B is transmitted in a number of ways.
“Sexual transmission, mother to baby as well as accidental needle sticks or blood exposures so that’s the main way that people get Hepatitis B,” said Dr. Richardson
The CDC also stated that getting vaccinated is highly effective in preventing the virus and subsequent liver disease; however, 70% of adults in the United States self-reported they were unvaccinated as of 2018.
“This was actually the first vaccine that’s been available to prevent and stop a cancer so the important thing is for you to live your normal life potential this vaccination helps you,” said Dr. Richardson.
Although treatment is not considered curative, antiviral treatment, monitoring, and liver cancer surveillance can reduce morbidity and mortality.
“The people that have Hepatitis B don’t panic this is an infection that would go on for 20 or 30 or 40 years before people would develop a problem and the statistics are too as well if you get Hepatitis B the chance of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer is actually 10% for each one of those,” said Dr. Richardson.
For more information on how to get tested or treated for Hepatitis B, contact your primary health care physician for a screening.
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