KENILWORTH, N.J. -- Recent broadcast and print media stories on the prevalence of hepatitis C infection have many Americans asking themselves, "Could it happen to me?" All-About-HepatitisC.com, a new patient-focused website that provides in-depth and credible information about hepatitis C, can help address these questions and other concerns for individuals who are looking for a reliable source of up-to-date information about the disease.
An estimated 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus, according to the National Institutes of Health, with approximately 2.7 million infected chronically for six months or more. The number of chronic infections in the United States is expected to increase four-fold over the next decade. Chronic hepatitis C, if left untreated, can lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and, in some cases, hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer. Hepatitis C is the leading reason for liver transplantation in the United States.
All-About-HepatitisC.com provides a "virtual" Personal Adviser that will help visitors to the website find the answers to their questions about the disease. The main benefit of using the site's Personal Adviser is that visitors will be able to easily locate information on the site that is relevant to their specific needs. The Personal Adviser assesses the needs of the visitor and then helps guide them through the relevant sections of the website. Visitors to All-About-HepatitisC.com can then create a personal portfolio to store the information obtained from their queries. Users who do not want to use the Personal Adviser can also freely navigate through all the pages on the site.
The site contains detailed information on hepatitis C, its consequences, risk factors, getting tested, getting treatment, and living with the disease. Because chronic hepatitis C is often asymptomatic and can lead to liver damage over many years, it is important for people at risk to get tested and for those who test positive for the virus to see their health care professional about available treatment options.
One of the useful features of the site is a risk factor questionnaire that patients can fill in online to assess their risk for hepatitis C infection. The "yes-no" questions explore medical, behavioral, occupational and familial risk factors. A risk assessment based on the responses to the questionnaire is available for print out so that users can take it to their doctor's office for consultation.
For users who identify themselves as having hepatitis C, the website offers information about support services and available FDA-approved treatments.
All-About-HepatitisC.com is provided as a free community service by Schering-Plough Corporation, a research-based company engaged in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products worldwide.
The website can be accessed at http://www.all-about-hepatitisc.com/.