Edison Mayor Announces B-Free Initiative To Test And Vaccinate Residents For Hepatitis B

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Antonia Ricigliano

EDISON—Mayor Antonia Ricigliano’s “B-Free Initiative” kick’s off this month in an effort to promote Hepatitis B testing and vaccination among Edison residents.

Hepatitis B can be a very serious viral infection that affects the liver, which can lead to chronic, or lifelong, liver infections, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States.

With treatments available for those infected and vaccination available for those who are not infected, it is important to understand your personal and family risk factors for Hepatitis B. Those born in certain countries and areas of the world are naturally more likely to be a carrier or contract Hepatitis.

For example, if you, your parents, or your children were born in China, India, Korea, Taiwan or Vietnam, you are at increased risk for chronic Hepatitis B infections. Although Hepatitis B is more prevalent in the Asian American populations, all individuals are highly encouraged to get tested.

Knowing your status is crucial to prevention and/or timely treatment.

Hepatitis B can be spread in three main ways: from a mother to her child at birth, blood-borne transmission, like wound to wound contact or reuse of medical needles or syringes, and/or from unprotected sexual contact.

Hepatitis cannot be spread through casual contact like hugging, kissing, holding hands or sharing utensils. There is no reason to distance yourself from a person infected with Hepatitis B.

Knowing your Hepatitis status is the most important step to protecting yourself and your family. Treatments are available for those with Hepatitis B and vaccinations are available to continue to protect those who are free of the infection. Most infected individuals do not even know they have Hepatitis. Even if you feel healthy, you could still be infected. Get yourself and your family tested and then treated or vaccinated.

As part of Ricigiano’s B-Free Initiative, the Edison Township Public Health Nurses will be hosting a series of clinics to test your Hepatitis B status at the Dr. William B. Toth Memorial Health Center, located at 80 Idlewild Road.

The first Hepatitis B clinic will be held on May 19, from 4 – 7 p.m. Online registration is -required for those who wish to be tested. Make an appointment by visiting the Edison Township website at www.EdisonNJ.org and click the “E-Permit & E-Registration” button.

For those who are found to be negative for Hepatitis B, the HBV vaccination series will be available. Three vaccination shots are required for full protection. Testing and subsequent vaccination will be free of charge for Edison residents only.


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