Upstate News

April 20, 1998
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Hepatitis C Support Group Looking for Members

People with Hepatitis C, their family members, and others who are interested in learning more about Hepatitis C, are invited to join the informational support group of University Hospital’s Liver Gallbladder Pancreas Center and the American Liver Foundation. The monthly meetings will be led by physicians who will present accurate, up to date information about Hepatitis C. A nurse will assist in leading a group discussion following each presentation. Topics of the discussions will be selected by meeting attendees.

The first meeting will be held Wednesday, April 29, 6:30 p.m., at the Marley Education Center, 736 Irving Avenue, Syracuse in the Community Room 208. Attendees do not need to join the group to attend this meeting. John Hvozda, Esq. will discuss legal topics involving Hepatitis C, such as obtaining life insurance, medical coverage, disability and explaining the Family and Medical Leave Act. Dr. Borys Buniak of University Hospital will discuss the medical aspects of Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a serious form of liver disease, affecting about 4 million Americans. More than 150,000 people become infected by this virus each year in the United States alone. One can catch the disease and not know it for several years. Many patients are identified after giving blood for routine blood testing, blood donation drives and when applying for life insurance. About 85 percent of the patients with Hepatitis C virus infection go on to suffer from chronic hepatitis.

The most common symptom of this ailment is fatigue. If left untreated, it can cause scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and an increased chance of liver cancer. Chronic hepatitis C is currently the leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States. Significant
liver damage from this infection may occur over a 20 year period, yet with alcohol use this process becomes accelerated. Thus far, treatment is not very successful, but emerging new therapies are encouraging. Development of vaccines are not anticipated within the
near future. The virus has the ability to mutate rapidly making it difficult to develop an effective vaccine which promotes lasting immunity.

For more information about the Hepatitis C Support Group or the next program, call (315) 464-9175.

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