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PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has designated November as Hepatitis C Awareness Month. Arizona residents underestimate the threat of hepatitis C, a bloodborne infectious disease that is the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver transplants and liver cancer in the U.S.
It is estimated that 100,000 Arizonans are infected with HCV, according to the Office of Infectious Disease Surveillance of the Arizona Department of Health Services.
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), 57 percent of Americans in the West say that hepatitis C is a serious and growing health threat in the U.S., but it has not received enough attention.
The survey also revealed a lack of knowledge among Westerners of the facts about hepatitis C:
-- On average, only 48 percent of those living in the West can accurately name risk factors associated with hepatitis C
-- Fifty-four percent of people in the West claim to be somewhat or very familiar with hepatitis C
-- Thirty-three percent of people in the West were not aware that prescription medication is available to treat hepatitis C
An estimated 2.7 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C, while only about 30 percent of chronically infected Americans are aware they have the disease because it can take years for the symptoms of the disease to develop. Anyone who falls into a high-risk group should get tested for the disease and if necessary, get treated.
Source: State of Arizona