Lee County Viral Hepatitis Death Statistics
Hepatitis is typically caused by a viral infection which results in the inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ tasked with the job of filtering blood, processing nutrients, and fighting off infections. A number of factors can cause hepatitis among Lee County residents, including heavy alcohol use; however, the most common cause is by viruses, which can be spread through contaminated food and drinks, by sharing needles, and by sexual intercourse.
There are five types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C ,D, and E. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common types of hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV).
The virus can be transmitted in several ways depending on the hepatitis type. HAV and Hepatitis E are most commonly transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water, while HCV and HBV are more commonly contracted through contact with infected blood and other bodily fluids.
The different types of hepatitis are ultimately unrelated and have different key characteristics. For example, Hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccine, while Hepatitis C is not. Different types of hepatitis have different long-term effects on a person's liver.
Many people diagnosed with hepatitis are asymptomatic, meaning they don't show noticeable symptoms. As a result, hepatitis can often go unidentified among Lee County residents for a long time.
How does viral hepatitis affect different demographics in Lee County, Arkansas?
HCV is found in unusually high rates amongst people born between 1945 and 1965, more often referred to as the Baby boomer generation. Although the reason for this trend is not totally understood, it is believed that baby boomers likely contracted the virus when rates were highest in the 1970's and 1980's. According to the CDC, 75% - 85% of people who are infected by Hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection, and this has lead them to be concerned about the generation.
To help this population, the CDC began a "Know More Hepatitis" campaign in 2012. The campaign encourages baby boomers to get tested in hopes that taking care earlier on will decrease mortality and morbidity rates.
Although both sexes are capable of contracting the virus, it disproportionately affects men. This is likely due to increased risk of infection for men who have sex with men (MSM) without the opposite being true for women. This increased risk exists for every type of hepatitis, including HCV which cannot be prevented by vaccine.
Reports from the Health and Human Services Agency and the CDC state that some racial/ethnic groups are at higher risk for certain strains of the virus. For example, Asian American and Pacific Islanders are most seriously effected by HBV. This group makes up approximately 5% of the U.S. population, but make up about 50% of all people living with HBV.
Another part of the CDC's Know More Hepatitis campaign is to bring awareness to groups disproportionately effected by the disease.
1. "What is Viral Hepatitis?" Center for Disease Control, 2018.
2. "About the Campaign- Know More Hepatitis" Center for Disease Control, 2017.
3. "Know More Hepatitis." Center for Disease Control, 2017.
4. "Viral Hepatitis in the United States: Data and Trends." Health and Human Services Agency, 2016.