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Hepatitis Awareness Month --- May 2006

May 2006 marks the 11th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month. In the United States, one of three persons has been infected with hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), or hepatitis C virus (HCV) (1).

HAV is spread by close contact with infected persons or through contaminated food. Since the introduction of hepatitis A vaccines in 1995, reports of hepatitis A have declined 84% (CDC, unpublished data, 2004).

HBV and HCV are spread by blood or sexual contact. In 2004, an estimated 60,000 new HBV infections and 26,000 new HCV infections occurred (CDC, unpublished data, 2004). In 1991, CDC adopted a national vaccination strategy to eliminate HBV transmission in the United States. Since then, acute hepatitis B has declined 75%, with the highest incidence remaining among adults.

Approximately 5%--25% of persons with chronic HBV and HCV infection will die prematurely from cirrhosis and liver cancer. Approximately 1 million persons in the United States have chronic HBV infection, and 3 million have chronic HCV infection (1; CDC unpublished data, 2004). Although effective therapies for viral hepatitis are available, the majority of persons with chronic HCV infection are unaware of their infection (1).

This issue of MMWR reports on the prevalence of chronic HBV infection among Asian/Pacific Islander populations in New York City and progress to eliminate HBV transmission through vaccination of adults. Additional information regarding hepatitis and Hepatitis Awareness Month is available at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Reference

  1. Kim RW, Brown RS, Terault NA, El-Serag H. Burden of liver disease in the United States: summary of a workshop. Hepatology 2002;36:227--42.

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Date last reviewed: 5/11/2006

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