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News ::
Chapa LaVia Urges Veterans to Seek Screening for Hepatitis C (english)
16 Mar 2003
Health Fair Offers Screenings for Hepatitis C
AURORA- Citing research that shows that 75 percent of Hepatitis C victims are veterans, State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), herself an Inactive Ready Reserve Commissioned Officer, is urging veterans to attend the "Second Chance Diversity Job and Health Fair" that will be offering information and screening for Hepatitis C on Monday, March 17, 2003 at the DePaul University Student Center located at 2250 N. Sheffield from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The health fair is being held by Don Doty, Executive Director of the Georgia Doty Health Education Fund to bring about Hepatitis C awareness and issues such as proper health screening and care for veterans diagnosed with Hepatitis C or who are at high risk.

"Our veterans risked their lives to protect our freedom," stated Chapa LaVia. "The least we can do is to now try to protect their health. This is a silent epidemic that is affecting many in our veteran society."

Hepatitis C is the most common and chronic blood-borne virus. Nearly 5 million Americans are currently infected with the virus yet many estimate that the true number of HCV+ persons could be 3 times that number. Most people are unaware that they carry the virus since it develops slowly and can go without symptoms for 20 years or more. This is due to a lack of awareness, screening and testing. Undiagnosed hepatitis C can cause fatal liver-related conditions that can develop into cancer and might require liver transplants.

In April of 2000, Gary A. Roselle, M. D. Program Director for Infectious Diseases Veterans Health Administration Department of Veterans Affairs testified before the Subcommittee on Benefits Committee on Veterans' Affairs U.S. House of Representatives that one in ten US veterans are infected with HCV, a rate five times greater than the 1.8% infection rate of the general population. A study conducted by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and involving 26,000 veterans shows that up to 10 percent of all veterans in the VHA system tested positive for Hepatitis C.

It is estimated that thousands more are infected with the virus but go undetected due to the lack of proper screening at medical facilities and military service not being identified as a risk.

"It is important that every veteran that goes to a medical facility is tested for Hepatitis C," commented Chapa LaVia. "The virus is up to 5 times more prevalent in the veteran population than the general public. It is for this reason that I urge veterans to attend the Health Fair to learn more about Hepatitis C and get tested. We must stop this virus from slowly eating away our veterans' health."

U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis, a longtime health advocate and community leader will be the guest speaker at the "Second Chance Job and Health Fair." Information about Hepatitis C is also available from the Chicago Department of Public Health or from the Illinois Department of Public Health online at www.idph.state.il.us. For Hepatitis C information specific to veterans, visit the Hepatitis C Movement for Awareness website at www.hcvets.com.

# # #



Cynthia Ralls
Illinois Regional Coordinator
Hepatitis C Movement for Awareness
www.hcvets.com
csralls (at) earthlink.net
630-906-0588
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