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Lourdes Doctors Urge Testing During Hepatitis Awareness Month
Date:5/13/2013

hared razors, toothbrushes or injection drug needles with an infected person
  • You’ve had intercourse with an infected person
  • You got a tattoo or body piercing at an unlicensed facility
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 75 percent of the 5 million Americans with hepatitis C are baby boomers (adults born between the years 1946 and 1964) and recommends that all boomers get tested. CDC experts believe this testing could find 800,000 new cases of hepatitis C—and save 120,000 lives.

    “One reason it is important to diagnose hepatitis C as soon as possible is because the body’s own response effort to the presence of the virus creates inflammation of the liver that can be debilitating,” said Dr. ElGenaidi. “Chronic inflammation can lead to cirrhosis, which significantly diminishes liver function. Cirrhosis is not reversible. We want to catch the disease before it reaches that stage.”

    Roman is thankful for the second chance at life that he received at Lourdes and refers to his transplantation date as his new birthday. He says living through the traumas he has lived through has made him all the more grateful.

    “I had a rough childhood,” says Roman. “My mom died of cancer when I was as an infant. My dad left our family when I was 12-years-old. I ended up living with my older sister in New York. I had no parental supervision and eventually got involved in drugs.”

    Abusing drugs in his youth is why Roman believes he contracted hepatitis C as a teenager. He wasn’t diagnosed until 1996, well after turning his life around and working for the health department, and later at South Jersey AIDS Alliance, where he provided education and treatment information to HIV/AIDS patients and promoted the safe needle exchange program.

    “Hepatitis C is a silent killer,” said Dr. ElGenaidi, “Like others with the disease, Mr. Roman didn’t know that he was infected until years later
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