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Tennessee pushes for hepatitis screening

The Tennessee Department of Health recommends a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online STD testing system that gauges a person's risk for hepatitis. Commissioner John Dreyzehner is urging citizens to take the assessment, according to WCYB news.

"By taking the simple CDC risk assessment, you can learn if you should see your medical provider for testing," Dreyzehner told the news source.

He stressed the importance of early detection in the effectiveness of treatment and care, saying that the disease often goes unnoticed. The commissioner also noted that there is an increased likelihood of hepatitis B and C in the baby​ boomer population. 

According to the CDC, 67 percent of Americans infected with hepatitis within a study were born between 1945 and 1965, suggesting that the demographic makes up the majority of those living with the disease. The source also notes that many long-time carriers of hepatitis C aren't aware that they are infected. 

Hepatitis is a bloodborne disease that affects the liver, and is transmitted through the use of unclean needles and sometimes sex. If diagnosed early on, the virus can be better managed. The free online test, which asks basic questions to determine a person's demographic and chance of exposure, merely acts as a screen to determine whether an individual should seek further testing from a professional. At the end of the survey, it recommends a follow-up test, a vaccination or neither based on the results.

Follow-up tests
The CDC reports that half of Americans do not seek complete testing for the virus after an initial positive test - stating that they choose instead to forgo the follow-up tests that could detect a relapse or ineffective treatment. The agency also states that roughly 3 million U.S. citizens are currently infected, and a possible 75 percent are unaware of their condition. Early testing and treatment can help to prevent hepatitis from doing extensive damage to the liver - the result of which can be fatal. 

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