Local Man Survives Hep C With Help From Sanford; Urges Screening - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Local Man Survives Hep C With Help From Sanford; Urges Screening

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Kent Martin, M.D., Sanford Health Infectious Disease Specialist; Duane Hagel, Hepatitis C Survivor Kent Martin, M.D., Sanford Health Infectious Disease Specialist; Duane Hagel, Hepatitis C Survivor

Three out of four people infected with Hepatitis C in the U.S. don't even know it.

Since 2007, more people have died each year from Hepatitis C than HIV.   It's actually a liver disease most often contracted by sharing recreational drug needles and equipment.  However, for some people like Duane Hagel, the virus was contracted by a blood transfusion.  "I got Hep C in 1987, when I had open heart surgery, and they couldn't really detect it until 1991, when they found out how to test for it," says Hagel, who is now cured.  Today, blood is tested before being used in medical procedures.  

The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is to avoid behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injection drug use.  You may be at risk for hepatitis C if you:


-- injected or inhaled drugs; even one time
-- had a blood transfusion before 1992
-- had contact with someone with Hepatitis C 

 

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, but with new treatments, experts say the cure rate is dramatically improving.  "Now, we're approaching a 90 percent cure rate for Hepatitis C, and we're trying to identify all the people that have it, because we can save them from dying.   We can save them from a liver transplant, and it's a lot cheaper to go through a cure than it is to go through a liver transplant," says Dr. Kent Martin, Sanford Infectious Disease Specialist.

"The way I look at it, I guess, is that if I wouldn't have did it, I'd probably have a year or two left with my wife.  Like I say, people know that they got it, or don't know and think it, I'd come in and get tested," says survivor Hagel.

Sanford Health is hosting a Hepatitis C screening event on August 28th and 29th from 1 to 6 p.m.  The cost is $10, and registration is required.  Phone 701/323-8030 to make an appointment.

Dr. Martin tells KX News the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve a new drug within the next few months that will advance Hepatitis C treatment even more.  On its heels, another such advancement is anticipated to be approved in 2014.

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