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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
|Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.|
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Chronic liver disease will, in turn, lead to a high number of individuals with cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Without proper preventive measures, those currently infected will continue to transmit the disease. Compounding this challenge is the fact that HCV disproportionately affects the medically underserved.
"The burden of illness due to hepatitis C underscores the importance of education, prevention and treatment," said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. "This plan provides a strategic blueprint to eliminate disparities among our most vulnerable residents and reduce infection rates."
In 2001, New Jersey Hepatitis C Advisory Board was created through legislation to help address the challenges associated with HCV and the board began meeting in the fall of 2003. The strategic plan is the result of a comprehensive process and represents the consensus statement of the board.
The purpose of the
The major goals of the Strategic Plan for Hepatitis C Prevention and Control include:
Helping to facilitate these goals will be the state’s Hepatitis C Coordinator, who was hired by DHSS’ Communicable Disease Service in June 2003 through federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The coordinator’s role is to oversee HCV awareness, prevention and surveillance activities, and enhance statewide hepatitis activities by collaborating with community groups and other state agencies.
HCV is an infection of the liver that affects people from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. The CDC estimates that 1.8 percent of Americans are infected with HCV, the most common blood-borne infection in the
HCV has been a reportable disease in
However, it is estimated that
HCV is found in the blood and body fluids of an infected person and is primarily passed from person to person through direct blood-to-blood contact, including mucous membranes or broken skin. HCV can also be spread through sexual contact; however, sexual transmission is responsible for a relatively small number of infections. The majority of current transmissions are due to injection drug use.
Since the implementation of screening tests for HCV, transmission due to blood transfusions and organ donations has declined dramatically. HCV is not spread by casual contact or by contaminated food or water.
HCV can be prevented through the following:
Symptoms caused by the initial infection with HCV usually occur 6 to 9 weeks after exposure but may be delayed for up to 6 months. These symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, fever and vomiting. A small number of individuals may develop dark colored urine and jaundice. However, oftentimes these symptoms may be very non-specific, causing many individuals to delay seeking medical treatment for years.
Symptoms caused by chronic HCV infection may appear many years after the initial infection. Available information suggests that as many as 60% to 70% of people infected with HCV will develop chronic infection, and 10% to 20% of those may develop cirrhosis, within 20 years of their initial infection. There also appears to be an increase in the risk of developing liver cancer.
For additional information on HCV and full details of the plan, visit the department’s website at: http://nj.gov/health/cd/f_hepac.htm . For information about HCV testing and referrals, individuals may contact: (609) 588-7500.
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Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360