African American Hep C Action Day is July 25th: Get Screened, Get Into Care!

July 25th is Annual National African American Hep C Action Day. Here's why African Americans should be concerned about hepatitis C.

by Nirah Johnson Patient Expert

Why Should African Americans Be Concerned About Hep C?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • African Americans are twice as likely to have ever been infected with the Hep C virus than other racial and ethnic groups.

  • African American Hep C-related deaths are almost double the rate as other ethnic groups

For this reason, the CDC and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) urge African Americans to take action to prevent liver disease today:

Get screened for Hep C
If Hep C positive, get into medical care. Hep C can be treated and cured!

Is Hep C Serious?

Hep C is caused by a virus transmitted through blood. You are at risk for Hep C if you:

  • Were born between 1945 and 1965

  • Shared drug use equipment (injection or intranasal) even a long time ago

  • Had a blood transfusion before 1992

  • Were in the military

  • Were exposed to the blood of someone who had Hep C

Hep C can damage the liver, cause cirrhosis (scarring of liver tissue), and increases the risk for liver cancer. Many people with Hep C do not have symptoms until late stages of disease. So even if you feel fine, you could have liver damage. It's important to get into care as soon as possible to protect your liver health.

The good news is that Hep C can be treated and cured!

Do the New Hep C Treatments Work on African Americans?

In the past, Hep C treatments did not work well on African Americans. However, the new medications released over the last few years result in a cure in the majority of all people treated. Hep C treatment now usually lasts less than three months and has few side effects.

Are the New Medications Experimental?

The new Hep C medications have been in development for a long time. They have been studied in large clinical trials and have been found to be safe and effective. They are not experimental.

Are the New Meds Expensive?

The new medications are expensive, however heath insurance or patient assistance programs cover the medications in many cases. Call your health insurance company to learn more, or contact a pharmaceutical assistance programs for guidance. More resources at the Partnership for Prescription Assistance.

If You Have Hep C, It's Critical to Take Care of Your Liver

  • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol speeds up the damage caused by Hep C.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity and poor diet can lead to fatty liver.

  • Talk to your doctor about all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications to make sure they are not making your liver condition worse.

  • Find a doctor who treats Hep C, and get cured! Find a Hep C care provider anywhere in the U.S. through the American Liver Foundation provider locator.

Nirah Johnson
Meet Our Writer
Nirah Johnson

Nirah Johnson, LCSW, Director of Program Implementation & Capacity Building NYC Health Department, Viral Hepatitis Program serves as the lead organizer of the NYC Hep B Coalition and Hep C Task Force since 2007.