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updated: 7/27/2011 8:05 AM

Lake County hosts free hepatitis health fair

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Lake County Health Department submission

In observance of World Hepatitis Day, the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center will host a free hepatitis health fair from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, in the lobby of the County Building of Lake County, 18 N. County St. Waukegan.

This free event is open to the community. Walgreens, Greenpath Health Group, LLC and YWCA Lake County are co-hosting the event.

Information, screening and education about transmission, care and treatment of viral hepatitis C, specifically hepatitis B and hepatitis C, will be available.

General information related to overall health and well being will also be offered. Free cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure screenings and other health resources will be provided by the partner agencies.

Sponsored by the World Hepatitis Alliance, World Hepatitis Day is a global initiative to reduce stigma, increase awareness and knowledge of the increasing impact of viral hepatitis on the global communities.

It is estimated that one in 12 people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C. One in three people have been exposed to both viruses, which can be spread by sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs, needle stick injuries in health care settings, being born to a mother who has hepatitis C, sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person's blood (such as razors or toothbrushes) or having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus.

Because it can take up to 20 years before symptoms of the hepatitis infection appear, many people live with the infection but never know their status.

Untreated chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death. It is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States.

There are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C. The long term objective of World Hepatitis Day is to prevent new infections and improve outcomes of people living with hepatitis.

The Health Department's STD/HIV program offers free HIV counseling and testing Monday through Friday at the Belvidere Medical Building, 2400 Belvidere Road in Waukegan.

Information about screening for other sexually transmitted diseases, including viral hepatitis, is also available. For details, contact the health department at (847) 377-8450.