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ADRLF’S Top 10 Facts on Tattoo Safety for World Hepatitis Day 2017

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Got a tattoo or planning on getting one? Then ADRLF’s World Hepatitis Day 2017 campaign is for you! Over 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo, including over 60% of millennials. But what gets lost in the hype of finding the coolest design and the best artist is the important conversation about hepatitis C, and the risks of body art. This year, we’re once again aligning with the World Health Organization and the World Hepatitis Alliance in the global effort to eliminate hepatitis, as we shine a spotlight on the increasingly popular ‘ink movement’, by promoting safe tattoo practices, in the name of hepatitis awareness and prevention.

The Hepatitis and Tattoo Connection

Hepatitis C affects over 3 million people in the U.S. One way the hepatitis C virus is spread is through unsterile needles used in tattoo and body piercing procedures. A 2013 study found that people with hepatitis C were almost four times more likely to report having a tattoo, while more recent studies recognize tattooing as a significant risk factor of hepatitis C (Adv Biomed Res. 2017; Curr Probl Dermatol. 2015). Also in 2013, the largest tattoo-related outbreak was reported in Rochester, NY. Nineteen people developed bubbly rashes on their new tattoos, which were done using dirty needles in an unsanitary setting.

Tattoo inks are also believed to have some serious health risks. Many of today’s tattoo inks contain metallic salts, oxides, sulphides, selenides, and other potentially carcinogenic chemicals that you simply would not want to be embedded on your body, and can take years to manifest into related illness.  (Tattoo Health.org).

Furthermore, there’s no sure-fire way to tell if the ink is safe from infection. In fact, it can be contaminated even if the container is sealed or the label says the product is sterile (FDA, 2015). Ironically, the word “tattoo” literally means “stigma” in Latin.

While your priority might be to find the best ink master in town, your first priority should be finding the most hygienically conscientious one. For example, did you know that tattooists and piercers are required to attend blood-borne pathogen training to ensure safe practices and prevent transmission of infections like hepatitis? Did yours train?  These and many other facts should be your armor, as you consider the pros, cons, and safest practices of tattooing. So, while ADRLF fully encourages freedom of expression and artistry, before you consider getting tatted-up — please CHECK OUT these Top 10 Facts for Hepatitis-Aware Tattoo Safety!

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Fact #1: Although contracting hepatitis C during the tattooing process is a very real risk, this potential health hazard has not decreased the country’s rising ink love affair. Americans spend approximately $1.65 billion on tattoos annually. And with over 23,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S. alone, a new establishment is being added in the country every day. Interestingly, more women have tattoos than men in the U.S. (23% vs. 19%).

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Fact #2: Tattoo machines can puncture the skin up to 3,000 times per minute, opening up possibilities of infectious diseases like hepatitis, tetanus, and AIDS. A standard 1-hour session equals 180,000 tiny, open “Russian Roulette” wounds, providing a pathway to life-threatening infections. (Action Wellness, 2015).

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Fact #3: Tattoo parlors are not held to the same sterility standards as doctors’ offices and hospitals. In the U.S., only a few states have strict hygienic regulations, and even fewer monitor and enforce standards. To reduce cross-contamination, tattooists and piercers must take basic preventative measures like handwashing and using new gloves for each new client (CDC, 2013).

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Fact #4:  Blood does not have to be visible on the tattoo needle to transmit infection. All reusable tools, counter spaces, and client chairs must be disinfected and sterilized after each use. Single-use supplies must be discarded (CDC, 2013). 

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Fact #5: Celebrities are speaking out about hepatitis risks, including actress Pamela Anderson, who disclosed she unknowingly contracted hep C from sharing a tattoo needle with her tatted-up rockstar ex-husband, Tommy Lee (webmd.com). Rock n’ blues pioneer Gregg Allman, who passed away last May 2017 from liver cancer, also shared in this video how he may have gotten hepatitis from a tattoo procedure.

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Fact #6:  As opposed to tattooing of the past, today’s techniques, tools and chemicals have changed significantly. In fact, many tattoo inks contain body-hazardous ingredients originally intended for writing, car paint, and printer ink. And while considered trade secrets, these inks may contain chemicals known to cause birth defects, mutations, and even cancer, with symptoms that may take years to appear (Tattoo Health.org).

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Fact #7:  There’s a greater chance of contracting hep C from informal settings with poor infection control, like pop-up parlors, prisons, and “tattoo parties,” where unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur with contaminated needles.  (CDC, 2016).

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Fact #8: ‘Ink-appreciators’ seeking an alternative to tattooing should consider henna body art, which involves applying the processed henna plant leaves’ paste onto the skin. Elaborate staining patterns can create temporary tattoos where desired (2014 case report).

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Fact #9:  Although invisible to the naked eye, increasingly popular ultraviolet tattoos — ones that become visible under a black light (at nightclubs, raves, etc.) — can nonetheless pose “significant safety issues”, due to their unregulated chemical ingredients; most dangerously so, phosphorous — which can cause a number of skin problems, including infections, blisters, and have links to cancers. Contaminated needles can also carry hepatitis C (2014 case report; tatring.com).

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Fact #10:  If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, find a reputable and licensed tattoo artist with a clean studio. Ask for new tools and unused pigments; and watch the artist remove sterilized needles from their packets (Healthline.com). Get tested for hepatitis C if you have a tattoo and any other risk factors such as medical issues like blood clots and STDs, and exposure to injected drugs and blood transfusion (CDC, 2015). Remember to Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t hesitate!

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Healthy Frozen Pops for a Liver-Happy Summer

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

With summer now in full swing, it’s important to stay hydrated and refreshed while basking in the sun’s heat, and enjoying a holiday barbecue, an outdoor picnic, or a day at the beach. Additionally, with or without an A/C, the oppressive humidity can seep indoors, create heat stress, and require moments of cool-down escape.

Use fruits and vegetables to make healthy homemade frozen pops! (Photo credit: Creative Commons/ Jennifer Chait)

Use fruits to make healthy homemade frozen pops! (Photo credit: CC/ Jennifer Chait)

Well, you may recall those tasty, colorful frozen popsicles from your childhood? The good news? You can make those summer treats with healthy ingredients that the whole family can enjoy! Using fruits and vegetables — with antioxidants and nutrients — makes for delicious homemade popsicles that are also liver-friendly. These are also sure to satisfy your sweet cravings – in lieu of unhealthy, sugar-filled summer go-tos, like soda and ice cream.

In preparation for your July 4th festivities, ADRLF invites you to cool down with some of our favorite frozen pop recipes.

Strawberry Beet Popsicles from Super Healthy Kids

Pairing beetroots with sweet strawberries offers a unique blend of flavors and health benefits, including anti-inflammatories that promote natural liver detox. 

1 1/2 cups of strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup of beets (cooked and cooled)

3/4 cup of apple juice

1 tsp of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (trust me!)

In a blender (preferably a high-speed one), puree all ingredients until completely smooth. Pour into your favorite popsicle mold and freeze 3-4 hours, or until completely firm. Makes 5-6 popsicles.

 

Dark Chocolate Frozen Kiwi Pops from Clean Food Crush

 Kiwis are antioxidant powerhouses that boost immunity and cell regeneration, including those in the liver. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that help promote liver cleansing.

4 kiwis

3/4 cup of dark chocolate or cacao chips

8 popsicle sticks

1 tbsp. of unrefined coconut oil

1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (for garnish, if desired)

Peel and slice ripe kiwis into one inch thick slices. Carefully thread the kiwi slices onto the popsicle sticks, then lay on flat sheet pan covered in foil. Freeze this batch for about 4 hours until it hardens. In another container, melt 3/4 cup dark chocolate or cacao chips then add one tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil to the hot, melted, chocolate, and stir. Dip the frozen kiwi slices in the melted chocolate. They harden almost immediately. You may also add some unsweetened shredded coconut. Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic and refreeze. Four kiwis make about 8 pops.

 

Sangria Pops by thefauxmartha

 A bonus treat:  Popsicles for adults only! Take the happy hour outdoors with this refreshing concoction of vitamin C-filled and antioxidant-rich fruits. Citrus fruits like oranges have great antioxidant activities that help reduce harmful free radicals that concentrate in the liver.

2 cups Seven Daughters Rich Red Winemaker’s Blend

3/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

3/4 cup strawberries, pureed

3 tbsp. agave nectar

1 lime, juiced

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir. Evenly distribute mixture into popsicle mold, leaving some room at the top for expansion when freezing. Insert sticks and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To remove, check that the pops are frozen solid by wiggling the stick back and forth. If it stays in place, pops are ready to be removed. If using a plastic mold, run it quickly under warm water. Carefully rock the stick side-to-side until the pops loosen.

 

Black Bean Fudgesicles from Kathy Hester’s “The Great Vegan Bean Book”

This soy-free, gluten-free, and oil-free recipe screams both “healthy” and “yummy.” Fiber-rich black beans are excellent protein alternatives. This popsicle hits two birds with one stone: you’re giving your body a break from meat, while improving your liver function.

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 oz.), rinsed and drained

1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons agave nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract                 

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. There will be some black flecks from the black bean skins, which you can strain through a cheesecloth, if you like. Fill your frozen pop molds about seven eighths full of the mixture. Freeze for several hours, or overnight, before serving. Makes 6 large popsicles.

 

Keep it cool, all summer long, as ADRLF wishes you and your liver a happy, healthy, tasty Independence Day!

Learn more about the health benefits of beetroots here

Learn more about the liver-friendly features of dark chocolate here

Explore other healthy frozen popsicle recipes here

And share your delicious, healthy, frozen, summer recipes with us!

ADRLF Awards Grants for Hepatitis Awareness

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Promoting liver health awareness is a demanding challenge, and when it’s effective, a rewarding feat—best achieved in collaboration with like-minded allies. Much of the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation’s (ADRLF) hard-earned success has been thanks to our fruitful partnerships with fellow health advocates that are staunchly committed to their respective missions. Therefore, when we can offer our support in the form of grants to dynamic organizations, it becomes a win-win for our collective fight against hepatitis.

In line with this commitment—and in observation of Hepatitis Awareness Month—earlier this spring, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation proudly awarded grants, in the amount of $1,000 each, to two very special New York City-based organizations, namely:  Hep Free NYC and the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition. The grants were given to support their respective efforts around hepatitis awareness.

ADRLF’S Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Dr. Carlos Ortiz asserts, “Through micro-grants, ADRLF is committed to helping grassroots organizations, modest-sized agencies, and programs that are in need of grant money for their specific projects which are related to hepatitis awareness, education and treatment.”

With that in mind, we are pleased to share the exciting work that HepFree NYC and TYSA are tackling, as they strive to make an impact through their outreach.

Hep Free NYC

Collaboration is key to Hep Free NYC’s work, in capacity-building for hepatitis awareness and treatment in New York City. The organization is composed of two divisions, the Hep B Coalition and NYC Hep C Task Force; and together, they unite diverse community-based organizations and health service providers in various activities that both promote liver health, and encourage public involvement in budget planning and legislation. Notably, the organization has been spearheading the annual observance of the National Hepatitis Awareness Month in NYC in partnership with other advocacy groups including ADRLF.

“Overall, our goal is to use the ADRLF grant to raise awareness about hepatitis and help prevent, manage, and treat hepatitis B and C in NYC,” noted Daniel Calder, Outreach and Community Education Coordinator for Hep Free NYC. One such instance—on May 10th, the organization gathered local council members, advocates, and hepatitis survivors on the steps of Manhattan’s City Hall to encourage hepatitis testing and improve access to treatment.

“Hep Free NYC is beyond grateful for ADRLF’s support,” Calder offered, while sharing more specifics, “We will use the funds from their grant to support Hepatitis Awareness Day activities, improve our hep C video, and organize screening events of the video.”

The Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition

Disease prevention is central to the mission of TYSA, a dynamic coalition of private and nonprofit groups working together to reduce youth drug and alcohol misuse in Staten Island. Recognizing the link between the prescription medication addiction and how it often leads to injection drug use, and hepatitis infection, TYSA is taking on creative means to get important messages across to younger generations.

Like HIV/AIDS, substance abuse also shares similar risk factors, such as hepatitis infection. “Issues like liver disease and substance abuse are very much tied to social justice,” explained Jazmin Rivera, Project Manager for TYSA. “So we want young adults to lead healthy lives and make healthy choices.”   

TYSA has joined forces with diverse stakeholders including parents, teachers, local leaders, mental health professionals, and the NYPD. They organize community education sessions like professional development workshops for teachers to instruct them on how to recognize signs of substance use in their students, as well as how to build skills to properly intervene.

“We also go to schools to show them the video we developed, and we start to have a conversation … and most youth don’t even realize that they can contract hepatitis C,” shared Rivera. With ADRLF’s grant, TYSA plans to leverage their video—“Hep C is on the Rise Among Staten Island Youth–Learn Why”—a project with Hep Free NYC Task Force that talks about the growing prevalence of hepatitis in New York City, and the intersection of substance abuse and hepatitis C.

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In the name of hepatitis awareness, prevention and treatment, ADRLF is proud to be aligned with organizations that advocate for getting the word out, particularly to vulnerable communities.  

ADRLF’s tradition of giving micro-grants is an important piece of the foundation’s larger work. Dr. Ortiz adds,  “In addition to our other initiatives, we would like to be able to assist those smaller organizations—which have challenges with raising funds or further extending their budgets—to help accommodate what’s needed to mount expenses for their projects associated with providing better access or education to under-served and/or low-income populations.”

We can all get involved to spread the word! With World Hepatitis Day (July 28th) soon approaching, we encourage you to see how you can make an impact in big or small ways! And always remember: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!

Learn more about Hep Free NYC here

Learn more about TYSA here and watch their video here

Support ADRLF’s hepatitis awareness grants and funding initiative here

Remembering a Rock Icon and His Hep Awareness Efforts

Friday, June 9th, 2017

As ADRLF continues to make hepatitis awareness a cornerstone of its mission, we respectfully pay tribute to the passing of yet another iconic musician impacted for decades by the illusive disease — the beloved southern rock pioneer, Gregg Allman, of the legendary Allman Brothers band, who was laid to rest at the age of 69 earlier this month in Georgia.               

Gregg Allman at a 2009 concert. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/Liza)

Gregg Allman at a 2009 concert. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/Liza)

Formerly married to Cher, Allman — who quietly battled liver cancer, as a result of complications from living with chronic hep C infection — was a keen advocate for raising hepatitis awareness.

While touring on the road, the notoriously “shy” and “kind” music great was simultaneously wrestling for decades with substance abuse, encircling his complicated life. However, Allman became clean in 1994; forged life with a healthful approach; received a liver transplant in 2011; and, through his story, hoped to get the important message out about the dangers of hepatitis C. 

Watch here an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta for CNN

Energized Health Advocates Rally at City Hall to End the Hepatitis Epidemic

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Yesterday on May 10th, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation (ADRLF) once again joined forces with New York City’s growing coalition of advocates devoted to fighting hepatitis. Crowds gathered at the steps of City Hall to raise awareness about the “silent epidemic” and promote community testing events across the city. The event took place to commemorate National Hepatitis Awareness Month, which is observed during the month of May each year, also coinciding with National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15th) and National Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19th).

ADRLF’s Co-Founding Board Member, Dr. Carlos Ortiz shared that the rally was set on a beautiful, sunny day. “The energy was great. There were many posters supporting Hep Free NYC, and there were exciting speeches that rallied the enthusiastic crowd.”

Representatives from different health advocacy groups gathered to promote hepatitis awareness.

Representatives from different health advocacy groups gathered to promote hepatitis awareness. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

“What I witnessed — that truly inspired me — was the sheer amount of people; even more so, this year’s variety of people,” Dr. Ortiz added. “And beyond that, the consistency and diligence of these attendees (now growing in number) who, every year, are fighting for this important cause: to end hepatitis. It’s why ADRLF remains committed to joining up with fellow advocates on this special day.”

Devoted to raising awareness and education, the event’s organizers provided a full recap of the morning, courtesy of their press release (excerpted below):

Speakers included the NYC Health Department’s Acting Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control Demetre Daskalakis, Councilmember Member Corey Johnson, Councilmember Margaret Chin, Hepatitis C Survivor Khalil Islam, members of the HOPE and Team HBV student initiatives, Bethsy Morales of the Hispanic Federation, and Daniel Leyva of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

Representatives and advocates from affected communities including city officials, patients, health workers, community workers, friends and families shared their stories today in hopes of encouraging action among New Yorkers to get tested and to demand better access to prevention and treatment.

Viral hepatitis disproportionately affects the Asian, African, African American, and Latino communities, as well as people who use drugs, formerly or currently incarcerated men and women, and the LGBTQ community. In New York City, a reported 146,500 people are infected with hepatitis C, and 100,000 people are infected with hepatitis B. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States, and those affected by hepatitis face strong barriers to care and treatment.

There is a vaccine available to prevent hepatitis B, and there are treatments to prevent serious liver disease and cancer for those already infected with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

“Our State is facing a serious viral hepatitis crisis that disproportionately affects minority communities. This event provides the opportunity to raise further awareness on this “silent epidemic” while we continue discussing the policies we need to implement in order to successfully combat and eliminate viral hepatitis in our City and our State,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I will continue working with the Hispanic Federation and fellow advocates to find legislative solutions that will efficiently combat this epidemic in order to improve our City and State’s public health outcomes.”

ADRLF Co-founder and Board Member Dr. Carlos Ortiz joined the rally with Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement of the Hispanic Federation, and fellow liver health advocates. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

ADRLF Co-founder and Board Member Dr. Carlos Ortiz joined the rally with Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement of the Hispanic Federation, and fellow liver health advocates. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

“Viral hepatitis has long affected some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including low-income and immigrant communities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “In order to fight back against it, we need to spread awareness and make healthcare accessible and culturally competent in new and innovative ways. That’s why the work of these organizations is so critically important. I thank all the participating organizations, as well as the NYC Department of Health for being active leaders in the fight to end viral hepatitis.”

“We are at a moment where science and medicine have shown us a way out of the epidemic of Hepatitis C,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis from the NYC Health Department. “The time is now for New York City to mobilize community, private, and government partners to address viral hepatitis and accelerate the implementation of better screening and access to life-saving treatments to people living with hepatitis B and C.  We need to test more, treat more, and support strategies to address the social drivers that will lead us to a ‘Hep-Free’ generation. Intensive navigation services and support for clinicians to effectively treat people with hepatitis C, supported by the NYC Health Department, are a key step in better identifying and curing hepatitis C.”

“We collectively invite you to join our mission to screen, vaccinate, and increase awareness around hepatitis and its alarming yet silent relationship to liver cancer,” said the founding board members of ADRLF. “To honor Al, we continue to amplify our focus on Latino (Spanish/Portuguese-speaking) populations, as well as art-based communities, vis-à-vis highlighting and providing education around hepatitis related issues such as:  awareness, stigma, treatment access, and mobilization. In fortifying support and engaging new allies, our voices together will continue to grow and spread this important message across small under-served communities and global borders, regardless of immigration status. To kick off National Hepatitis Month, we ask you to: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!”

“During May’s observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month, we also mark National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (NHHAD),” said Daniel Leyva, Director of the Latino Religious Leadership Program of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “Both of these events highlight the importance of strengthening efforts to address hepatitis C virus infection in the United States and among Latinos respectively. While the prevalence of hepatitis C in the general population is 1.5%, it is estimated to be 2.6% in the Latino community. Some of our Latino communities are at much greater risk, such as our substance using and transgender communities. Today, we need to renew our commitment to promote HCV testing and to continue bringing awareness about life saving treatment to cure HCV. Only by working together, we will achieve a healthier NY for all.”

 “As opioid use among young people continues to increase, so does hepatitis C infection.  According to the CDC, the rate of hepatitis C among Hispanics increased 13.6% from 2013 to 2014. We are deeply concerned about these rates and the lack of accessible information and care. Hispanic Federation is working tirelessly to ensure that we eliminate the hepatitis C and B virus in our communities through advocacy, screening, vaccination, education, and treatment access,” said Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement at the Hispanic Federation. 

In recognition of National Hepatitis Awareness Month, New York City community-based organizations will be hosting hepatitis screening events and educational workshops throughout the month of May. ADRLF encourages you to join this growing movement to end hepatitis!

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You know our ADRLF motto: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!

Know more about Hepatitis Awareness Month here

Join upcoming hepatitis awareness activities in NYC here 

Learn more about National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day here

New Report Outlines National Strategy to Eliminate Hepatitis

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Priority and strategy – these are the key aspects of hepatitis elimination that were put forward by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (The National Academies) in their recent report, “A National Strategy for the Elimination of Hepatitis B and C: Phase Two Report.”

“Viral hepatitis is simply not a sufficient priority in the United States,” said Brian Strom of Rutgers University, who heads the committee that conducted the study behind this consensus report. “Despite being the seventh leading cause of death in the world — and killing more people every year than HIV, road traffic accidents, or diabetes — viral hepatitis accounts for less than 1 percent of the National Institutes of Health research budget.”

Combined, chronic hepatitis B and C affect about 4 million people in the U.S., alone. Viral hepatitis increases the risk of developing liver cancer, which has become more prevalent. From 2003 to 2012, liver cancer cases in the U.S. have increased by 38 percent, while deaths caused by this condition rose by 56 percent. Developing a more strategic approach to prevent, diagnose, and treat hepatitis is indeed fundamental to address liver cancer.

The very reason that the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation was established in his name, in 2008, was in direct response to Al’s untimely death, during this noted nine-year time period, when liver cancer cases — and fatalities associated with viral hepatitis — were markedly on the rise.

The report underscores hepatitis as a public health concern and highlights the barriers to its elimination. It also points to important tools such as diagnosis — even more helpful when it’s early — which could cut the number of hepatitis B-related deaths by 2030. Screening at-risk populations for hepatitis B could also reduce liver cancer cases from this virus strain by 45 percent.

Keeping hepatitis elimination as a top public health priority requires aggressive efforts, the report suggests. For example, the report committee noted that a coordinated federal effort would be needed to effectively manage injection practices and expand syringe exchange programs for people who inject drugs.

Prevention through immunization is also part of the outlined strategy. The committee called for the National Council on Quality Assurance to monitor the delivery of hepatitis B vaccines to newborns, particularly those born to women with chronic hepatitis B.

Regarding hepatitis C, which has no known vaccine, the report suggests new payment models that will help hepatitis C patients — especially those who are underserved with little to no access to health insurance — pay for expensive medication. 

“By implementing The National Academies’ recommendations, we can erase the stigma that keeps our nation from achieving elimination and specifically address the needs of those most heavily impacted by hepatitis B and C, including people who use drugs, the incarcerated, and people using Medicaid and other public health programs,” said Ryan Clary, executive director of National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR).

To learn more about the report, click here

To know more about The National Academies, visit their website

For more on hepatitis testing guidelines, click here

WHO Promotes New Hepatitis Testing Guidelines

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

The medical and health communities have made great strides in developing hepatitis treatments and making these available across the world. However, viral hepatitis continues to affect over 300 million people and to cause 1.4 million deaths each year, thus begging the question — are we doing enough to combat hepatitis?

CaptureThe World Health Organization (WHO) confronts this question with an official response: the first ever publication outlining global guidelines for viral hepatitis released in February 2017 at the 26th Conference of the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver in Shanghai, China.

Testing remains to be one of the most important and basic means to prevent and manage hepatitis. This is especially true because many people with hepatitis may not exhibit any symptoms. Affected individuals may unknowingly live with the virus for decades, and later suffer from its long-term effects. For example, up to 85 percent of those with hepatitis C develop serious infections that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

One of the goals in introducing the new guidelines is to simplify the current approaches to hepatitis testing — from determining the people who need to get tested, to identifying testing centers, and to connecting affected people with suitable treatment resources.

“Improving access to hepatitis testing is critical to increasing access to life-saving treatments,” said Dr. Marc Bulterys in WHO’s press release announcing the newly issued guidelines. Bulterys noted that testing is particularly important in low- and middle-income countries where many people are not aware that they are infected and have limited access to treatment.

The WHO guidelines encourage rapid diagnostic testing for high-risk groups such as: those who have HIV, those who inject drugs, and children born from mothers with hepatitis. The guidelines also push for rapid testing of hard-to-reach populations, community health workers, and incarcerated people.

Ultimately, the guidelines serve as a blueprint for countries to strengthen current hepatitis testing programs, encourage early detection, and improve chances of survival. Clearly, WHO’s tremendous work and efforts align with ADRLF’s message to: SCREEN. Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate!

Learn more about WHO’s Guidelines here

Identify early signs of hepatitis here

Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day — Smoothie Style!

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

There are different ways to go green and celebrate this year’s St. Patrick’s Day. Keeping your liver health in mind, you can skip the green-frosted cupcakes and lime-colored beer and go for healthier options. Leafy greens contain a lot of fiber and antioxidants that assist important liver functions, such as breaking down toxins and chemicals. So, don’t leave your health to luck! Try these tasty green smoothie recipes that will help cleanse your liver as you commemorate this popular, festive holiday dedicated to Ireland’s patron saint.  ‘Drowning the shamrock’ can have its benefits!

smoothie-1200530_1920Ultimate Green Smoothie (source: www.incrediblesmoothies.com)

This recipe calls for fresh ginger, which contains gingerol — a bioactive compound with digestive cleansing and medicinal properties.

Ingredients:

1 orange, peeled

1 medium banana, peeled

1/2 lime, peeled

1 tablespoon chia seeds, soaked for 5 minutes

1 small piece of ginger, grated

2 cups kale or dandelion greens, chopped

8 ounces of water or homemade almond milk

Directions:

Add all the ingredients except for the greens to your blender and hit the “pulse” button a few times. Then add the greens and blend on high for 30 seconds or until the smoothie is creamy.

Green Goddess (source: www.prevention.com)

This smoothie makes use of spinach, which contains a skin-friendly compound called glycoglycerolipids, and also features parsley, which is an effective diuretic.

Ingredients:

10 spinach leaves

1 stalk celery

½ cucumber

½ cup parsley

Directions:

Put all ingredients through a juicer. Chill with ice, if desired.

Green Detox Smoothie (source: www.autoimmunewellness.com)

This smoothie has coconut juice, which contains fatty acids that help process toxins in the blood stream. For more on the liver health benefits of coconuts, as well as buying tips, check out our previous blog.        

Ingredients:

1 Granny Smith apple, cored and roughly chopped, peel left on

1 kiwi, peeled and roughly sliced

1 large green kale leaf, stalk removed (save it for something else), leaf roughly chopped

¼ packed cup curly parsley, stalks included

2½-inch piece cucumber, thickly sliced, peel left on

¾-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced

2 cups coconut water

Directions:

Put all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until completely smooth.

For more liver-cleansing recipes you might want to try, click here.

So, get your green on, and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day without harming your liver! And always remember to: Screen, Vaccinate — Don’t Hesitate!

Support ADRLF on World Cancer Day

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Greetings ADRLF Friends & Family,

We hope this winter finds you in great health and spirits! In observance of World Cancer Day 2017, we’re proud to share that 2016 has been a great year for the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation and our mission to screen, vaccinate, and increase awareness around hepatitis and its alarmingly silent relationship to liver cancer. With your ongoing support our voices together will continue to grow and spread this message across small communities and global borders.

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Festive, serious, and goal-oriented at once, our work this year has expanded our outreach! This year, for our annual fundraiser, we got a little sporty and hosted a fun, interactive 1970s themed event — ADRLF’s Disco Bowl Spring Fling! A May afternoon of spirited bowling, and colorful bell bottoms, concluded with a special musical performance by The Discoettes, as we raised $9000 from sponsors and supporters towards health screenings and education.                         

In July, ADRLF produced a second annual social media event to help promote World Hepatitis Day! This time, to honor Al’s deep pride of his Cuban-American heritage, we focused on Latino (Spanish-/Portuguese-speaking) populations worldwide, vis-à-vis hepatitis related issues such as:  awareness, stigma, treatment access, and mobilization — particularly in under-served communities and regardless of immigration status. Joining forces with the World Hepatitis Alliance to help launch the NOhep initiative — a global movement aimed at eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030 — our own “Top Ten” initiative doubled our Twitter outreach, engaged new allies, and attracted potential healthcare partners.

In keeping Al’s vibrant legacy alive through youth outreach, we have set up two scholarships in Al’s name at his beloved college and high school alma maters — Long Island University (Brookville, NY), and Cardinal Hayes (Bronx, NY), respectively.  We look forward to these students being hopeful envoys of our message through their educational work.                

Rounding out the year, in partnership with the Ryan/Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center, we hosted a successful “Give Thanks for Your Liver” Open House/Hepatitis Screening Event in November. With tasty treats on offer throughout, the gorgeous autumn day kicked off with an interactive educational presentation on hepatitis, followed by fun liver-wellness-inspired classes from cooking, to art, to dance led by illustrious professional instructors! Meanwhile, inclined visitors were provided free hepatitis screenings, and helpful healthcare information. Events like these are the cornerstone of our diligent work. Last but not least, our Board Member, Carson Kressley, brought national attention to the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation, when his team played for ADRLF on ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud — and won! 

Thanks to robust stateside healthcare advocacy, today over 91% of Latino/Hispanic babies in the U.S. have access to hepatitis B vaccines  

With February 4th highlighting World Cancer Day, we share the global message: “We Can. I Can.” We can conquer hepatitis and liver cancer. Please join us in spreading the word by supporting ADRLF’s winter initiative with your donations. In doing so, you can also honor a friend, colleague or family member with a gift in their name as we work together to help save lives.  With our volunteer board and minimal overhead costs, every penny makes a difference and your tax- deductible donation will go directly to our outreach. Al left an indelible mark on us all.  Thank you for believing in our foundation, embracing Al’s spirit, and supporting our message along this amazing 8-year journey.   

Happy winter! And help keep spreading the word to: Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate! 

The ADRLF Board

Darcy Becker, Lisa Collins, Cara Joy David, Harriett D. Foy, Elana Hayden, Carson Kressley, Dr. Carlos Ortiz, Crayton Robey & Daniella Stromberg

 

Do Energy Drinks Cause Hepatitis?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Do energy drinks cause hepatitis? The connection between energy drinks and this serious liver disease became a major concern after an alarming case report was published by a group of researchers from the University of Florida College of Medicine. The report cited a case of acute hepatitis that was associated with the patient’s consumption of 4 to 5 energy drinks a day for three weeks, prior to being hospitalized. The 50-year-old patient showed symptoms of hepatitis C and was found to have underlying hepatitis infection. However, further tests showed that his liver damage was not caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV); rather, it was caused by toxins or drugs.

liver, hepatitis, energy drink,

Take energy drinks in moderation to avoid liver injury. (Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar)

So what does this mean?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that results in the inflammation of the liver. Untreated cases can lead to scarring of the liver or cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. HCV is commonly spread through contact with infected body fluids or blood, as in the case of an infected pregnant woman passing the virus to the fetus. The virus is also spread through sharing contaminated needles, particularly among drug users. It is important to note that HCV is not spread through casual contact, food or water.

In this patient’s case, where do energy drinks fit into the scenario?

Further laboratory studies showed that the patient’s blood had high levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid – in fact it “exceeded quantifiable limits.” Notably, these vitamins are commonly found in energy drinks. When taken in large amounts, they can be toxic. And these vitamins – as do all chemicals and toxins that enter our body – typically accumulate in the liver. As such, for this patient, the excessive quantities of these energy drink ingredients caused a liver injury.

But how does this affect your energy drink intake?

A constructive point of this case report is that moderation is key. Drug-induced liver injury is a serious and common health problem in the U.S. Energy drinks, in particular, contain significant amounts of caffeine, niacin, and vitamins like B6. Harmless as these ‘vitamins’ may sound, consumers must keep within the recommended daily values of vitamins and nutrients to avoid the harmful risks of overdose. So before swearing off of energy drinks altogether, just be mindful that healthwise — ‘overdoing it’ can be just as harmful as not doing any thing at all. And with that as a guide in this new year, we remind you to make sure to take preventative actions against hepatitis: Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate.

Learn more about drug-induced liver injury here

Prevent hepatitis with these awareness tips