Agency Encourages Testing During Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis C
By WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is encouraging people to get tested during National Hepatitis Awareness Month.

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and Sunday, May 19 is Hepatitis Testing Day.

Dr. Laura Cheever with the Health Resources and Services Administration tells WBBM Newsradio, while the testing day falls on a Sunday this year, she thinks that the whole month can be used to really get people to understand that they should be tested for Hepatitis C.

Partly fueled by the opioid epidemic, new hepatitis C infections more than tripled between 2010 and 2016. Although advances in HIV care and treatment result in longer life expectancy for people with HIV, those who are coinfected with HIV have a high risk of liver-related illness and death.

"We have done a poor job in this country of really talking about the fact that in the opioid epidemic there are significant infectious disease complications, including both Hepititis C and HIV," Dr. Cheever said.

So during Hepatitis Awareness Month her agency is spreading the word about the infection and the importance of getting tested.

Dr. Cheever said Hepititis A is usually a self-limited illness. Someone is sick for a short period of time and may even need a hospital stay, but usually recovers. She said Hepitits B and C can become chronic infections.

"The CDC several years ago set up guidelines that all people that are in the baby boomer generation should be tested for Hepititis C," Dr. Cheever said. 

There was a lack of testing for it by hospitals in the 60's and 70's, so some got it through blood transfusions or not properly sterilized medical equipment.

You can log onto to find testing locations across the Chicago.