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World Hepatitis Day — July 28th

Group of multi-cultural men and womenViral hepatitis is a major global health issue. Learn more about viral hepatitis for World Hepatitis Day – July 28th.

Viral hepatitis is a major global health issue affecting nearly 400 million people worldwide. In observance of World Hepatitis Day, July 28, learn more about three common types of viral hepatitis: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus that can cause mild to severe illness but does not lead to chronic infection.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A every year.
  • The hepatitis A virus is spread by ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.

While Hepatitis A occurs most commonly in countries where there is a lack of safe water and poor sanitation, foodborne hepatitis A outbreaks can and do occur in the United States. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking. One example was an outbreak of hepatitis A in the western United States that was linked to pomegranate seeds from Turkey. Outbreaks such as these are reminders of the importance of hepatitis A vaccination.

The Hepatitis A vaccine is now recommended for all children at age 1 and adults at risk of infection. Of the 11 children age 18 or under who got infected during the outbreak, none had been vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective and is the best way to prevent getting infected with hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B

  • Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus that can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 240 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B.
  • The hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

The best way to prevent getting infected with Hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. In the United States, the Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all babies at birth and adults at risk of infection.

Map: Worldwide Rates of Chronic Hepatitis BHepatitis B is common in many areas across the world, especially in many Asian and African countries. Left untreated, up to 25 percent of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer. The good news is that treatments are available that can help slow down or prevent liver damage.

While Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) make up less than 5% of the total U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B. In fact, 1 in 12 AAPIs have hepatitis B, but most don't know they are infected. To learn more, visit the Know Hepatitis B campaign website.

Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus that can cause both acute and chronic disease.
  • Globally, there are an estimated 130–150 million people living with chronic Hepatitis C.
  • The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Unlike Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, there is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis C. The best way to prevent Hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, such as sharing needles or other equipment to prepare and inject cosmetic substances, drugs, or steroids.

Twenty five years ago, the Hepatitis C virus was identified and renamed from “non-A non-B hepatitis.” Much progress has been made since then. But most of those living with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected. In addition to recommending testing for anyone at risk for infection, CDC also recommends that everyone born from 1945-1965, or baby boomers, get a blood test for hepatitis C. People born during these years are five times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C and account for more than three out of every four Americans living with the disease. CDC's national Know More Hepatitis campaign educates people born from 1945-1965 about the importance of getting tested. Testing everyone born during these years could identify 800,000 people unaware of their infection, and over time, could save 120,000 lives.

People with Hepatitis C often have no symptoms and can live with the disease for decades without feeling sick. Even without symptoms, liver damage may be silently occurring. Fortunately, treatments are available that can cure Hepatitis C.

Logo: World Hepatitis Day - 7/28/2014Do you need to be tested or vaccinated?

Find out if you should get tested or vaccinated by taking CDC's 5 minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment.

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