Volunteers Look to Educate During Hepatitis Awareness Month - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Volunteers Look to Educate During Hepatitis Awareness Month

Marsha Rose Joyner Marsha Rose Joyner
Dr. Alan Tice Dr. Alan Tice
NovaLei Gonzales NovaLei Gonzales

HONOLULU (KHNL) - One of every 50 Hawaii residents carries hepatitis C.

But, less then half them actually know it.

Here in Hepatitis Awareness Month, volunteers are working hard to spread the word on this misunderstood disease -- as their Random Act of Kindness.

More than 20,000 people in Hawaii are infected with the deadly -- hepatitis C.

That's enough to fill the Stan Sheriff Center.

Twice.

''Hepatitis is such a big thing," says volunteer Marsha Rose Joyner. "People walk around and not know they've got it. So, it takes all of us, that you see volunteering to make people aware of what hepatitis is, what it does to the body and how we can affect some kind of a cure."

It turns out, many patients finally discover they it when their liver is damaged beyond repair.

In most cases, by then, it's too late.

There is no cure for hepatitis C.

That's why educating the public is all the more crucial.

''Hawaii doesn't have a lot of money when it comes to medical care," explains infectious disease specialist, Dr. Alan Tice. "But, we've recognized the disease and there's a phenomenal number of people who volunteer, contributing their efforts to try and help with this silent epidemic."

''My greatest hope is that we can reach as many people as we can, to get tested. If you don't get tested, then you don't know," says NovaLei Gonzales, who also lives with the deadly disease. "But, once you know, then there is help, and there is treatment."

And with treatment comes hope.

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