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The American Liver Foundation Encourages Heightened Awareness of Hepatitis B and C in Light of Recent Events in the News
Date:11/21/2007

NEW YORK, Nov. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following release and statements are attributed to The American Liver Foundation: The American Liver Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and improving the quality of life for the 30 million Americans with liver disease, issued a statement today expressing its concern over the recent reports that Nassau County physician Dr. Harvey Finkelstein made repeated use of medicine vials intended for single-patient use, potentially contaminating the vials.

"What is tragic about this situation," said Dr. Douglas Dieterich, Professor of Medicine, Liver Diseases, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Chairman of the Board of the Greater New York City Chapter of ALF, "is that innocent people are now at risk of contracting potentially deadly viruses: hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Although most Americans are familiar with HIV, most do not know about hepatitis B and C, the two most common forms of chronic liver disease. Hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious and hepatitis C four times more infectious than HIV. More than 5 million Americans have hepatitis B or C. Viral hepatitis exhibits few if any symptoms, and the undetected illness can progress to a point where treatment may no longer be effective. These viral infections can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death if untreated.

"When it comes to hepatitis, for example, many doctors don't know how it is transmitted or when to test their patients," said Dieterich. "Testing can allow for early diagnosis and treatment, preventing the virus from developing into cirrhosis of the liver or cancer."

Although hepatitis B is vaccine-preventable, there is no complete cure for those already infected. And while hepatitis C can be treated successfully for half of those infected, there is no vaccine to protect the uninfected. Hepatitis B and C infection can be avoided by using only sterile needles for tattoos or body piercing, avoiding injection drugs, and practicing safer sex.

"ALF works on many fronts in order to combat liver disease," said Rick Smith, the President and CEO of the American Liver Foundation. "Unfortunately, one of the greatest obstacles to overcoming liver disease is the ignorance and the stigma attached to it. That is why we provide medical seminars for physicians as well as awareness campaigns for the general public."

About the American Liver Foundation

The American Liver Foundation is the nation's leading nonprofit organization promoting liver health and disease prevention. ALF provides research, education and advocacy for those affected by liver-related diseases including hepatitis. Please visit the American Liver Foundation's Web site at http://www.liverfoundation.org.


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SOURCE American Liver Foundation
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