Musicians Raise Awareness of Hepatitis C in Missouri

Springfield and Columbia Musicians Join Kelly's Lot to help The Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance Raise Awareness of Hep C.

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Columbia, MO (PRWEB) April 11, 2006

The Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance (MOHCA) is proud to announce an “Awareness and Screening” program with three concerts by blues and roadhouse rock band Kelly’s Lot, national spokesband for the national Hep C Coalition. The series of three Hep to Life Benefit Concerts launches Friday, April 28, 7 p.m. at Nathan P Murphy’s (216 S Campbell, Springfield MO 417-863-1909). Additional events will be held April 29 at Martini Bar (4004 Peach Court, Suite G, Peach Tree Plaza, Columbia MO, 573-256-8550, 7 p.m.) and April 30 at Franky and Louie's Beachfront Bar and Grill (Lake Rd 5-41, Sunrise Beach MO, 573-374-5750, 3 p.m.) All proceeds go to Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance to help the organization’s clients and those who serve them. Tickets are $15 for one and $25 for two people. The first 50 arrivals will each receive a free Kelly's Lot CD. Free screening, testing, and education will be provided to all.

Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus that effects over 4 million Americans, most of who have no symptoms. Though spread by blood to blood exposure, it was not until 1992 that blood transfusions were screened for the virus. Any tattoos, IV or nasal drug use, or exposure to contaminated blood would put someone at risk for this virus which attacks the liver. Hepatitis C is the major cause of those on the liver transplant list, most of whom had no idea they had the virus until it was too late to treat.

Missouri Hepatitis C Alliance was founded in 1998 as a support group. Bruce Burkett, Founder and President, has been through several rounds of treatment and has been virus free since May 1999. In 2001 MOHCA rallied at the state capital to get an HCV education bill passed and then funded. It has since grown to eight support groups across the state and has begun providing free testing in rural MO. In collaboration with RAIN of Central Missouri, MOHCA provides free testing for individuals at risk. Those who test positive are provided counseling, follow up testing and physician referrals. MOHCA has tested 560 people and found 163 positive cases. The organization has helped 67 people receive medical care.

For two years Lisa McCarthy and Gloria Laughlin have been teaching and testing those who have come to MOHCA looking for assistance. Gloria, who has Hep C and is currently going through treatment, is helping Lisa McCarthy coordinate the Springfield event. On board assisting Bruce Burkett in Columbia and Sunrise Beach is Suzanne Opperman, Liver Advanced Practice Nurse and MOHCA treasurer. Lending his support is Dr. Paul King, a gastroenterologist in Columbia and a MOHCA board member. Everyone involved is dedicated to educating folks in Missouri about Hepatitis C.

Los Angeles-based Kelly's Lot was formed by lead singer Kelly Zirbes. After losing a friend to Hep C, Kelly decided to use her music to raise awareness of this serious and stigmatized illness. "A spoon full of music helps the awareness go down" say Zirbes. "After using music to educate the public for over 5 years I have realized it works and am excited to work with MOCHA to raise awareness in Missouri" Local bands, Stark Raving Calm, Fly by Night, St. Johns Blvd and Hilary Scott have agreed to perform as well for the cause. Please check out http://www.HepCware.org for details on each show.

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