TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 17, 2012) -
Attention: Health & Lifestyle Editors
Hepatitis C is no laughing matter. In advance of World Hepatitis Day (July 28), the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) and Canadian comedian Mike MacDonald are calling upon Canadians to learn more and get tested for hepatitis C, a potentially fatal liver disease. The organization has launched an awareness campaign which includes a national public service announcement (PSA) featuring the comedian.
Fourteen months ago, Mike, 57, was diagnosed with hepatitis C. He does not know how he contracted the virus, but suspects it is possibly due to his past lifestyle and drug use. Mike is now in need of a liver transplant and has teamed up with CLF to raise awareness about the importance of testing for the hepatitis C infection.
"I never thought this could happen to me, but all it takes is one moment to contract this virus," said Mike. "I've been living with this infection for a long time and didn't know it until I was diagnosed last year. I support the Canadian Liver Foundation's campaign to raise awareness about hepatitis C and encourage Canadians to get tested. Don't wait until it's too late."
There is a stigma associated with the disease due to its connection to injection drug use. The fact is people can contract the virus through any blood-to-blood contact including, blood transfusions prior to 1990, sharing personal care items (razors/ nail clippers), tattoos, piercings and medical procedures with improperly sterilized equipment.
The Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL), with funding from the CLF, has come out with new treatment guidelines, which point to great advancements in the treatment of hepatitis C, including newer more effective treatments and a greater range of diagnostic testing.
"Testing for hepatitis C will allow for a diagnosis, leading to appropriate treatment, which is the best hope for a cure," said Dr. Morris Sherman, Chairman, CLF, Hepatologist and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto. "Canadian data shows the highest prevalence of chronic hepatitis C is among those born between 1945 and 1975. Recently the US Centres for Disease Control has recommended that all baby boomers be tested. Since many people are not aware of their own risk factors, we agree that this is an age group that should consider getting tested. Nothing should be left to chance."
An estimated 250,000 Canadians are currently infected with hepatitis C, and 3,200 to 5,000 individuals are newly infected each year. The complications of untreated hepatitis C can be severe and may lead to liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure which is likely to be fatal unless a transplant is performed.
For more information on hepatitis C, visit the CLF Web site at www.liver.ca/hepatitis.
An Audio News Release is available here.
A Video Public Service Announcement is available here.
A Radio Public Service Announcement is available here.
About the Canadian Liver Foundation
Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of all liver disease. Through its chapters across the country, the CLF strives to promote liver health, improve public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raise funds for research and provide support to individuals affected by liver disease.
The CLF acknowledges Merck Canada for its support of the CLF's campaign to raise awareness about hepatitis C as a serious liver disease and promote liver health in Canada.