World Hepatitis Day
Welcome to Summer 2022! This summer is looking much different than a year ago. However, we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The various Omicron variants are continuing to spread in our community. As of this writing, the threat level in San Antonio is high. That is, we should be wearing masks when indoors. We are continuing to encourage everyone to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID. I’m happy to report that all of the staff of our Holy Cross clinic have been vaccinated.
This month, we are welcoming Christina Hernandez, Family Nurse Practitioner, to the Holy Cross and HealthTexas families. She comes to us with extensive experience and will be a great addition to our group. She will begin splitting her time between our Highlands and Holy Cross
I have written in past years about World Hepatitis Day. As a reminder, there are multiple types of hepatitis infection, but we’ll be focusing on the most serious types, hepatitis B and C. Both are viral infections that are passed through blood and body fluids, but there are some significant differences.
Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccination. Adults who weren’t vaccinated as children can be vaccinated with a series of 3 injections. At this time, those at highest risk are encouraged to be vaccinated. Healthcare workers, close contacts of people infected with hepatitis B, travelers to high risk areas, IV drug users and prison populations are at highest risk.
Most concerning, in the population we serve, is hepatitis C. Hepatitis C was discovered after hepatitis B and screening began much later. At this time, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The current recommendation is that people born between 1945 and 1965 should be screened for hepatitis C. Like B, it is transmitted by blood and body fluids. Often in my career, I’ve diagnosed hepatitis C in patients who have no risk factors for the disease.
Now, there is treatment that is 90-95% effective depending on the type of hepatitis C a patient is carrying. Currently, I have a few patients who have been successfully treated for hepatitis C. They view it as lifesaving and life changing. It is important to know that not all patients infected with hepatitis C continue to carry the virus or even have effects from the disease. That said, the risk is high enough that screening is recommended and further evaluation should be done to completely define a patient’s risk.
As always, if you have questions about the topics in this article, reach out to your HealthTexas physician for more information. Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Medical Group, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.