Denver records broken for World Hepatitis Day
DENVER – Liver Health Connection facilitated record-breaking participation in hepatitis C blood screening July 28, during a four-hour World Hepatitis Day event at Denver’s Skyline Park.
At the corner of 16th Street and Arapahoe, along Denver’s busy 16th Street pedestrian mall, Skyline Park served as an ideal location to offer tests and promote new cures.
“Many people who get tested want to know what will happen if they have hepatitis C. We can happily tell them there is a cure,” said Rob McGoey, patient navigator for Liver Health Connection. “These treatments can cure over 95% of people with hepatitis C. For the first time we can imagine a future in which viral hepatitis has been eliminated.”
Liver Health Connection hosted activities with multiple shade canopies for testing and information. Large signs, smiling volunteers, complimentary bottles of water, hula hoops and t-shirts bearing the bright green shades of World Hepatitis Alliance’s NOhep logo helped draw people in and increased this year’s numbers to an average of 4.5 people an hour requesting tests. In all, 18 requested the finger prick hepatitis blood screens, which return results in 20 minutes.
“It’s great that 18 more people know their hepatitis C status as of today,” said Dede Laugesen, a spokesperson for Liver Health Connection. “Far more stopped to talk about viral hepatitis or to report their status both good and bad. Even those who passed on by were made aware of the condition.”
Sidewalk banners with important risks and statistics, and young people spinning signs promoting free hepatitis C tests, served to increase reach and impact.
“It is an awesome opportunity for a person to talk with someone who cares, about local and national resources available to combat viral hepatitis in all its forms,” Laugesen said. “The level of interest shows a growing awareness on the part of the public. This uptick in concern is needed to drive awareness to action.”
Volunteers and staff from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Tri-County Health Department, American Liver Foundation, Denver County AIDS Project, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, and Jefferson County Public Health joined Liver Health Connection in recognizing viral hepatitis as one of the world’s major health concerns.
World Hepatitis Day is observed every year on July 28 and aims to boost the global profile of viral hepatitis and strategies for elimination. This year the World Hepatitis Alliance, aligned with the World Health Organization, launched NOhep 2030, a global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. At the 2016 World Health Assembly, 194 Member States made an historic commitment to adopt a global strategic plan. Liver Health Connection is working closely with the World Hepatitis Alliance to enable success of NOhep 2030 in Colorado and throughout the United States.
“My hope for future World Hepatitis Days,” said McGoey, “is that they will no longer need to be days of awareness raising and instead will be days of celebration because the world came together to end the spread of an all-too-common and deadly infectious disease.”