Acting Secretary of Health and Pennsylvania Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson joined representatives from Hamilton Health Center to discuss the importance of preventing and treating viral hepatitis and HIV on World Hepatitis Day.
“It is important for us to highlight that HIV and viral hepatitis diseases are preventable,” Dr. Johnson said while at the community testing and vaccination event at Hamilton Health Center. “The Wolf Administration wants residents to feel empowered and not fear testing because unfortunately there may be Pennsylvanians living with Hepatitis who may be unaware of their infection. I encourage you to not let the unknown scare you and get tested today to know your status.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once in their lives. People at higher risk should get tested more often. The CDC also recommends that adults 18 and older should be tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime. Hepatitis C screening is recommended for all pregnant people during each pregnancy; people with risk factors, including those who inject drugs, should be tested regularly.
In partnership with the Department of Health, Hamilton Health Center offered free and confidential rapid hepatitis C testing, rapid HIV testing, administration of the hepatitis A and B vaccine for eligible persons as well as other educational materials relating to harm reduction and recovery services.
“Hep can’t wait’ – that is the theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day 2022,” said Terese DeLaPlaine, acting interim CEO at Hamilton Health Center. “This theme draws attention to messaging that we cannot simply wait, it is time to act. We cannot wait for a world without hepatitis or a world without stigma. We cannot wait to get tested or treated. We want the community to know resources are available because after all, hepatitis can’t wait.”
The departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs recently launched a media campaign to break down stigma and educate Pennsylvanians that HIV and hepatitis C testing is important and that there are resources available across the commonwealth.