Saint Luke's Liver Disease Management Center is offering free hepatitis C screenings to the community in August.
Testing will be available at four Saint Luke's metro hospitals Monday, Aug. 6 through Friday, Aug. 31 or until supplies run out.
Hepatitis C is a contagious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The disease can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person.
The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis or liver failure. An estimated 130 to 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C.
"Most people with chronic HCV have no symptoms and can carry the virus for years without knowing it," said Fredric Regenstein, M.D., medical director, Saint Luke's Liver Disease Management Center. "That's why we're partnering with the American Liver Foundation to educate the community and remind people about the importance of testing."
New recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) call for one-time HCV screening of all Americans born between 1945 and 1965. The new recommendation expands upon the previous CDC guidelines which advised testing of individuals with a known risk for the disease.
Since baby boomers - people between the ages of 47 and 67 - account for 75 percent of adults infected with HCV in the United States, the new testing guidelines should help identify many infected Americans who did not recognize they were at risk and have never been tested.
Screenings are free and confidential and will be offered at various dates and times Aug. 6 through Aug. 31 at Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City, Saint Luke's South Hospital in Overland Park, Saint Luke's North Hospital in the Northland, and Saint Luke's East Hospital in Lee's Summit.
Participants who test positive for HCV will receive a phone consultation from a nurse.
Call 816-932-LIVER (5483) for information about appointment times and locations.
Click here for more information on the screenings.
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