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Local congressman diagnosed, raises awareness on hepatitis C
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Congressman Hank Johnson (D, Lithonia) recently acknowledged he been battling hepatitis C, a blood-transmitted virus that attacks the liver, over the last decade.

"Over the past year, I have been on a robust course of treatment for hepatitis C (HCV), a virus that affects more than four million Americans. I am pleased to announce that my therapy is progressing well," said Johnson, in a released statement.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates about 3.2 million Americans have chronic hepatitis C, which can be contracted by those who received blood transfusions before 1992 when donor testing methods were put in place, users of intravenous drugs and recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987.

Johnson said in an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that like half of those with the virus, he did not know how he contracted the disease, but that he hoped to bring more attention to the illness.

"Having come through a long course of treatment, I want to send a strong message that a cure is possible but you must be tested and treated," he said.

"Though this infection has caused me some discomfort and frustration, it has in no way affected my ability to legislate and serve my constituents," said the District 4 congressman, who represents part of Rockdale. "My record of attendance at votes and in committee meetings is outstanding. I have passed three major bills in this year alone. As Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy, I have led an active and effective committee. And as Southeast Regional Whip in the House leadership I played a significant role in rallying my colleagues’ support for historic health reform."