SOURCE: Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc.

March 16, 2007 10:57 ET

Hepatitis C Remains Most Common Chronic Systemic Viral Infection in United States: Caring Ambassadors Program Urges Caution in Interpretation of CDC Report

OREGON CITY, OR -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 16, 2007 -- The Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program issued a statement today urging policy-makers and private citizens not to be lulled into complacency regarding the ongoing hepatitis C crisis in the U.S. The nonprofit advocacy group's statement was a reaction to the report, "Surveillance for Acute Viral Hepatitis - United States, 2005," published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)."

"Hepatitis C is the most common, chronic, systemic viral infection in the United States -- by a wide margin," noted Dr. Tina St. John, Medical Director of the Caring Ambassadors Program. "The MMWR article addresses the incidence of acute hepatitis only, which is rarely seen with the hepatitis C virus. The vast majority of people infected with the hepatitis C virus become chronically infected and many sustain serious, even life-threatening liver damage before the infection is diagnosed. The burden of chronic hepatitis C among Americans, which is not addressed in today's MMWR article, remains alarmingly high. It is critically important that people recognize chronic hepatitis C is an ongoing, substantial problem for millions of Americans."

At least 1 in 50 Americans has already been infected with the hepatitis C virus, and CDC's report indicates that at least 20,000 new infections occur annually. "With 4 to 5 million citizens already carrying the hepatitis C virus, and 50% to 75% of them being unaware that they've been infected, we clearly have an ongoing public health crisis on our hands," noted Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program Director, Lorren Sandt. She added, "We are concerned that today's MMWR article could easily be misunderstood. Most people are unfamiliar with the differences in the various forms of viral hepatitis. A mistaken sense of reassurance or complacency at this point in the hepatitis C crisis could prove devastating to control and prevention efforts. More -- not less -- attention and effort are needed to avert thousands of needless deaths due to hepatitis C," concluded Sandt.

About Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact. Hepatitis C is currently the leading cause of chronic liver disease in the U.S. and the most common indication for adult liver transplantation. HCV is known cause of liver cancer, the incidence of which more than doubled between 1975 and 1998, and is expected to double again by 2020. Chronic hepatitis C is associated with increased risk for other medical conditions outside the liver including diabetes, kidney disease, lymphoma, and neuropsychological maladies.

About the Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program

The Hepatitis C Caring Ambassadors Program is a division of the national nonprofit public charity, the Caring Ambassadors Program, Inc. (CAP). Hepatitis C CAP is committed to improving the health and longevity of those living with chronic hepatitis C through information, awareness, and advocacy.

Contact Information

    Lorren Sandt