Viral hepatitis was originally referred to as the “silent epidemic” by
former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop because more than 4 million Americans
are living with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C and up to 75% of these
individuals are unaware of their status.

People living with Hepatitis C (HCV) come from all walks of life and often
feel alone, ashamed and isolated. This illness results from a virus that
attacks the liver and decreases its ability to serve as the body’s filter
for toxins and other agents. Individuals with HCV can live for decades
without feeling ill effects from the virus, most often transmitted through
blood-to-blood contact that occurred decades ago but can eventually result
in problems due to chronic and/or undiagnosed HCV infection.

To understand the severity of the Hepatitis pandemic, largely ignored for
decades, comparison can be made to the AIDS pandemic. 1.4 million people in
the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and one-third of infected
individuals do not know their status. Federal funding is available to assist
HIV+ persons with life-stabilizing needs. In contrast, a support
infrastructure does not exist for people living with HCV.

The Centers for Disease Control has developed a 5-minute online risk
assessment that can be found at This
private tool can provide a baseline for important follow-up conversations
with physicians. Many pharmaceutical companies have or are developing HCV
treatment options including Merck, Vertex and Gilead Sciences.

Locally, AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (ASMR) assists persons
living with HCV by providing case management assistance and housing at The
Cleve Jones Wellness House. Contact the agency at 357-6855 or email ASMR is funded, in part, by the City of
Keene and the Monadnock United Way.