May is Hepatitis Awareness Month
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections which can lead to liver cancer. Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis, and many do not know they are infected.
CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis is leading a national campaign called Know More Hepatitis. The initiative aims to increase awareness about this hidden epidemic and encouraging people born from 1945-1965 to get tested for Hepatitis C. The division is also coordinating with community partners to promote testing among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through the multilingual Know Hepatitis B campaign.
Hepatitis Risk Assessment
The online Hepatitis Risk Assessment is designed to determine an individual’s risk for viral hepatitis and asks questions based upon CDC’s recommendations for testing and vaccination. The Hepatitis Risk Assessment allows individuals to answer questions privately, either in their home or in a health care setting, and print their recommendations to discuss with their doctor.
Hepatitis Testing Day – May 19th
May 19th has been designated as a national “Hepatitis Testing Day” in the United States. The CDC will use the second annual Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19th as an opportunity to remind health care providers and the public who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Find a testing event near you or help build testing resources by registering your testing day event on the Hepatitis Testing Events page.
The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by one of several viruses, which is why it is often called viral hepatitis. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Chronic Hepatitis can lead to Liver Cancer
Unlike Hepatitis A, which does not cause a long-term infection, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections. More than 4 million Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C in the United States, but most do not know they are infected. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to serious liver problems including liver cancer. Every year, approximately 15,000 Americans die from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis.
Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C have contributed to the increase in rates of liver cancer in recent decades. Some population groups are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis-related liver cancer. The number of new cases of liver cancer is highest in Asian and Pacific Islanders and is increasing among African Americans, baby boomers, and men.
Vaccine-preventable: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can both be prevented with vaccines. Cases of Hepatitis A have dramatically declined in the U.S. over the last 20 years largely due to vaccination efforts. The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at one year of age and for adults who may be at increased risk.
Unfortunately, many people became infected with Hepatitis B before the Hepatitis B vaccine was widely available. The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who may be at increased risk.
Follow CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis on Twitter @cdchep.
- Join in the conversation during the month of May and use the hashtags #HepAware for Hepatitis Awareness Month, #HTD for Hepatitis Testing Day, and #HepRisk for the Hepatitis Risk Assessment.