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The Case for Increased Testing for Chronic Hepatitis B Virus by the CDC

            The CDC has recently come out with the recommendation that medical professionals should increase routine testing in the U.S. for chronic hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is a main cause of liver cancer and disease. The recommendation suggests that testing be done on all persons born in Africa and Asia and that it also be done on others in the at-risk population, such as men who have sex with men and injection drug users.
             The recommendations sent out by the CDC, for the first time, come with guidelines for managing chronically infected patients of hepatitis B. "Chronic hepatitis B affects the lives of more than one million Americans, many of whom do not even know they are infected. These new recommendations are critical to identifying people who are living with the disease without the benefits of medical attention," said John W. Ward, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis. "Testing is the first step to identify infected persons so that they can receive lifesaving care and treatment, which can break the cycle of transmission, slow disease progression, and prevent deaths from liver cancer.".
             2000 to 4000 deaths each year are caused by hepatitis B. The testing recommendations are what the CDC says is needed to prevent this by detecting the symptoms early. 1.4 million Americans with chronic hepatitis B have no symptoms and do not even know that they have it.
             To detect it early is the equivalent to preventing the spread. If more people know that they have it, they can keep from giving it to others and get the treatment they need for a longer life. With the new medicines that have come out in just the last five years, those that have hepatitis B have been given a sense of hope. With the new guidelines being distributed for treatment of those found to be infected, they will be watched more closely for effects on their liver.
             Other goals of the CDC are to make sure that infants are vaccinated, unvaccinated older children are caught up on their shots, at risk adults are vaccinated, and pregnant women are screened.

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