Southern 7 Health Department raising awareness about Hepatitis B

 

ULLIN, Ill. (KBSI) – An estimated 1.4 million Americans are affected by Hepatitis B. Southern 7 Health Department together with other Illinois healthcare providers aim to raise awareness about HBV and encourage the public to get screened and vaccinated.

Shawnna Rhine of Southern 7 outlined what you can do to see if you qualify for a vaccine. 

“To find out if you are eligible for the vaccination, you just need to have a simple blood test,” she said. “If it turns out that you already have the antibodies in your system, then it’s very possible that you’ve been vaccinated already, but that blood test will tell you whether or not you need to continue with those series.” 

Hepatitis B is most often spread from mother to baby during birth and, if not treated in time, can cause liver cancer. 

“If you are a mom, if you’re planning to be pregnant, if you are pregnant, it is good to get tested and see if you test positive for HBV, and if so, then your pediatrician will know that, at birth, your child does need to receive that vaccination,” Rhine said.

Rhine said HBV’s severity adds importance to protecting you and your children against it, but unless you get screened, you may not even realize you have it until it’s too late. 

“The thing about it is, you often don’t know that you have any symptoms until later on in life when it’s hard to treat, but if they can detect it early through screening, then you can begin the necessary treatment,” she said,

Considering the severity of the virus, Rhine said the earlier the better when it comes to detection and vaccinations. 

“We want people to realize there is no cure,” she said. “There is a treatment, but there is no cure, so it’s important to make sure you get those vaccinations with your children. If you do start having symptoms of Hepatitis B, then you do need to contact your doctor.” 

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