ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New toll-free number (1-888-DOH-HepC) offers access to services, confidential advice.
The New Mexico Department of Health has launched a new toll-free number to help patients with hepatitis C get access to services and learn how to fight the disease, according to a health department news release.
The number is 1-888-DOH-HepC (364-4372), where health department staff will answer questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and callers can also leave confidential messages that will be returned by department staff, the release said.
"The number will help providers connect patients with hepatitis C services," Ray Stewart, director of the department's public health services in southwestern New Mexico, said in the release. "Individuals who are at risk for hepatitis C can also call to find out where they can get tested."
Anyone who has ever injected drugs, shared crack or methamphetamine pipes or received a blood transfusion before July 1992 is urged to get tested for hepatitis C, according to the release.
Hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by toxins, bacteria and viruses.
The most common forms of viral hepatitis found in the United States are hepatitis A, B and C, and there are approximately 5,000 people with hepatitis B in New Mexico and an estimated 28,000 to 32,000 chronically infected with hepatitis C in the state, the release said.
It is important for those diagnosed with hepatitis C to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, the health department said.