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  1. Kerbleski, Marian BSN, RN, CGRN


More than 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus. Although overshadowed by acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the hepatitis C epidemic is now recognized as a major health problem. Prevalence is estimated to be anywhere from 1.2% to 10% in specific populations. Nurses continue to express confusion in understanding the disease process; therefore, many opportunities are missed to counsel patients and families who may be at risk or who have hepatitis C. Many patient questions go unanswered because nurses mistakenly assume the medical provider will educate these patients and families. However, nurses have more contact with patients, and one of the nurse's roles is to provide health education. The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations agree it is the nurse's role to educate patients. Accurate hepatitis C virus information helps nurses guide patients and families in understanding this disease process.