- Published: Friday, May 31, 2013 06:54 PM
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) has passed legislation out of the General Assembly that creates a commission to study ways to fight the deadly disease Hepatitis C.
“Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that threatens the lifespan and quality of life of an estimated five million people nationwide,” Munoz said. “This task force will work to provide recommendations to the Department of Public Heath to determine how we can make people aware of and educate people about this dangerous disease.”
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer or life-threatening esophageal and gastric varices.
HCV is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions. An estimated 130–200 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C.
The virus persists in the liver in about 85 percent of those infected. This persistent infection can be treated with medication, and overall, 50–80 percent of people treated are cured. However, the disease can be deadly if not detected. Currently, there is no vaccine against hepatitis C available.