To help raise awareness, Monday has been designated World Hepatitis Day.
1 in 12 people on this planet have some form of hepatitis. And since there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C as there are no symptoms, health professionals say it is extremely improtant to get tested. Officials also say it is vital to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B since they are vaccine preventable.
Hepatitis B can be spread within households, having sex with an infected partner, and also through blood to blood.
Hepatitis C is only transmitted blood to blood. So experts say everyone is at risk for getting Hepatitis C, even if it is at a beauty parlor, barber shop, blood transfusion before 1992, doctors office or clinic that reused vials or syringes.
Officials say tattoos or body piercings, sharing personal items that might cause a blood to blood contact like toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, etc. and/or rare mother to child transmission can also pass the disease along.
Hepatitis C does not discriminate based on ethnicity, age, social status. Officials call it everyone's disease!
5 million are infected in the U.S. and 4 million don't know it yet.
Officials with the Hepatitis Education Awareness and Liver Support say that 300,000 are infected in Florida and most of them don't know it yet.
Officials with HEAL also say that Hepatitis C patients outnumber HIV patients about 5 to 1, yet very few facts are known by the general public about Hepatitis C.
"It's very important to raise awareness. Number one there is a vaccine and no-one should die from Hepatitis B. If there's a vaccine available there should be no deaths," said RN Tiann Taylor of the Thomas County Health Department.
Hepatitis A and B can be managed with readily available vaccines but there is not a vaccine for Hepatitis C.
"Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in this country but 2/3 of patients will die waiting for organs that aren't available because most people were diagnosed too late to even try the treatment for Hepatitis C. There simply are no symptoms until one has reached the latter stages of the disease so the message to Get Tested becomes even more important," said Pam Langford of HEAL.
Public Health officials urge both adults and children to get the three part series of shots for Hepatitis A and B, available at the local health department or through private clinics.