Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
WASHINGTON - Among American Indians and Alaska Natives, chronic liver disease is a leading cause of death. While the cause is not always known, some cases can be initiated by conditions such as chronic alcoholism, obesity, and exposure to Hepatitis B and C viruses.
The overall death rate for American Indian/Alaska Natives is 2.4 times higher than for the White population.
Early detection and treatment can help people beat viral hepatitis, which is a group of infections that affect the liver. In the United States, the three main forms are known as A, B, and C. In some cases, hepatitis can kill. But some people with hepatitis B or C can carry it without knowing.
Dr. John Ward is director of the division of viral hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
“CDC's particularly concerned that, of the 3.5 to 5.3 million persons living with hepatitis in the United States, many, if not most, are unaware of it.”
He says they could be unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.
There are vaccinations against hepatitis A and B, and highly effective treatments for B and C.
posted September 2, 2011 10:50 am edt
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