During May’s observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month, we also mark National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (NHHAD). Both of these events highlight the importance of strengthening efforts to address hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among Latinos. NHHAD is a national community mobilization and social marketing campaign that unites the Hispanic/Latino community in efforts to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, promotion of hepatitis C testing, and prevention and education, in addition to other related critical health issues such as HIV co-infection and alcohol use.
This year’s NHHAD theme is “Let’s Talk About Hepatitis” or ““Hablemos sobre la Hepatitis”. In line with this theme, we are doing a week-long series of real-life stories of people who are are living with hepatitis now or in the past.
I am Yolanda Maldonado and this is my story:
I have had Hepatitis C since 1997. The most challenging thing to me was making sure that all of my cuts were covered and that no one came in contact with it. I am always aware of any cuts that I have. I feel that I am contaminated and that really scares me. As far as my family is concerned, it’s always on my mind to let them know that I have Hepatitis C so that they are aware. The Hepatitis C treatment was the positive outlook for me, even though it didn’t work for me, I wanna try again. I did the triple therapy for 48 weeks. The medication was helping me eradicate the Hep C, which it did, for like four months. But it came back. When people ask me about treatment, I don’t say anything negative about it. I tell them, yeah, I had a lot of side effects, but that was me. Not everyone is the same. I had a lot of side effects. But I can’t say that that will be the same for you. My future goal for my health is to eradicate Hep C, to completely get rid of it and just really looking forward for the new medications. I also want the world to know to stop thinking that the Hep C treatment is so bad. Because Hep C is right up there with HIV, it’s even worse, because it’s a silent killer. Some people don’t know they have it until years later. It doesn’t have to be that way; it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. No es una sentencia.
Remember: May 15th is National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day. Here are some things you can do to get involved!
- Free Hepatitis A, B, and C screening and testing activities will be occurring throughout the United States throughout the week. Many activities will also include free hepatitis A and B vaccines, educational workshops, and awareness campaigns. For more information on testing sites please visit the calendar at hepbcnyc.org.
- On May 14th there will be a press conference at the steps of City Hall in NYC that will present information through the voices of elected officials, public health officials, community leaders, celebrities and advocates.
- That afternoon (May 14th), at 2pm, there will also be a bilingual twitter chat on addressing viral hepatitis in the Latino Community. Follow us @NHHAD and like us on FB to get involved.
- Throughout the month of May and June we will also be hosting webinars on different viral hepatitis topics and populations affected by this illness.
For more information go to www.hispanichepatitisday.org.
-Written and Compiled by Bethsy Morales-Reid