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posted: 5/15/2014 11:40 AM

Health department offers free hepatitis health fair

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Lake County Health Department submission

In observance of National Hepatitis Testing Day, the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center will host a free hepatitis health fair in conjunction with Walgreens, the YWCA Lake County and GlenLake Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The event will take place Monday, May 19, in the lobby of the County Building, 18 N. County St. in Waukegan, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Program staff will provide information and education about hepatitis B and C prevention, care and treatment. Free blood pressure screenings will be offered. Participants can also receive general information related to overall health and well-being.

In 2013, 212 cases of all types of hepatitis were reported in Lake County. The health department's sexually transmitted infections program provides counseling and resources, as well as a monthly support group for people infected with hepatitis C.

Health officials estimate one in 12 people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and one in three people have been exposed to both viruses. These diseases can be spread by:

• Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs and needle stick injuries.

• Sharing personal care items that have come in contact with another person's blood, such as razors or toothbrushes.

• Having sexual contact with an infected person.

Symptoms of hepatitis C, which include yellowing of the skin or eyes, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, fever, extreme fatigue and stomach pain, can take up to 20 years to appear. Many people live with the infection but are unaware of their status.

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, liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. Currently, there are vaccines available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, but not for hepatitis C.

Located at 2400 Belvidere Road in Waukegan, the health department's sexually transmitted infections program offers sexually transmitted infections screening, treatment and hepatitis vaccines. Other services include counseling, education, free and confidential HIV testing, educational-based support/talk groups, and outreach.

For information or to make an appointment, call (847) 377-8450 or visit aspx.