LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is responding to an ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A in Southern California by offering free vaccines to homeless populations. While California Governor Jerry Brown and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) declared a statewide state of emergency on October 13th, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Cruz counties have been identified as local outbreaks.
In collaboration with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, AHF will offer vaccines every other Thursday through its mobile testing vans that will make stops among clusters of homeless communities.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hepatitis A is a liver infection that is usually transmitted person-to-person via the "fecal-oral route," or ingesting something that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. The virus can also be transmitted through contaminated food or water. Given the deplorable conditions of living on the street and the lack of access to restrooms and sanitary stations, homeless populations are often the most at risk for a hepatitis A outbreak.
“We must immediately take action to provide more portable toilets and hand-washing stations to homeless encampments that are continuing to grow in number and size around Los Angeles. AHF has provided dozens of hepatitis A vaccinations since the beginning of the outbreak and we will continue to work with local health officials to reach as many people as possible,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein. “This public health emergency is a wake up call that the City of Los Angeles needs to develop and implement a consistent strategy to help our homeless populations who are in dire condition. The city needs to provide improved sanitary conditions for the homeless to help stem disease and infections and put in place a workable plan to offer shelter for people who are forced to live on the streets each day.”
The CDPH recently reported it has already distributed more than 80,000 doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. In San Diego, the county’s Public Health Services has also taken action by installing sanitation stations in high homeless areas and are washing city streets with a bleach solution to kill the virus.
The vaccine is 95% effective after the first dose and the second vaccination (recommended) is almost 100% effective.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 821,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.