May 19th is Hepatitis Testing Day. A Message from HONOReform Foundation

May 15, 2012

The following message is provided by Evelyn McKnight, help the founder and president of HONOReform Foundation.

May 19 is Hepatitis Testing Day, which may seem to be just another health observance.  Unfortunately, as someone who contracted hepatitis C as a result of unsafe injection practices, I know the importance and urgency of testing for hepatitis.

Over the past twelve years, there have been over 40 documented outbreaks of bloodborne pathogens in U. S. healthcare settings. More than 125,000 patients have been notified that they needed to be tested for potentially fatal diseases hepatitis C or HIV. Why? A health care provider did not follow injection safety guidelines. Or he or she simply did not know the proper procedures in the first place.

I know it’s hard to believe, but can you imagine the emotional toll, not to mention the financial impact, of being infected with HCV? In my case, I was battling a recurrence of breast cancer when I was diagnosed. With no other risk factors, attention turned to the clinic where I was receiving chemotherapy. Before long, it was discovered that the same syringes were being reused on multiple patients and a community saline bag was being misused. Ninety-nine of us were infected.

With my story, just one of many, in mind, I want to urge anyone who has risk factors for hepatitis to get tested. More and more Americans, particularly Baby Boomers, are becoming affected by this “silent epidemic.” For more information, do an Internet search for “CDC Hepatitis C Information for the Public.” Information on Hepatitis A and B is also included.

To everyone else, I issue this challenge. Become an empowered patient! If you are getting an injection or IV treatment, follow the recommendations of the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), and ask, “Will there be one needle, one syringe and only one time?”

Encourage your state or local health department to become involved in the effort to prevent disease outbreaks associated with unsafe infections. SIPC has just released a “State and Local Health Department Toolkit” that offers helpful strategies and practical advice.  Health officials can download it from the One & Only Campaign website:

It seems inconceivable that a patient could, while receiving medical treatment, end up with a deadly disease. But, sadly, it’s happening all over the country.  It’s real.  It’s recent.  It could become your problem. Again, I urge anyone with risk factors for hepatitis to get tested. And everyone who is responsible for giving injections to always follow the proper procedures.

Evelyn McKnight is the founder and president of HONOReform Foundation and the co-author of A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History.

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