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World Hepatitis Day --- July 28, 2011

July 28, 2011, marks the first official World Hepatitis Day established by the World Health Organization (WHO). CDC joins with WHO in calling for a renewed commitment against a largely silent but persistent epidemic. Worldwide, nearly 500 million persons are living with chronic hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, and these infections cause approximately 1 million deaths annually (1); most persons with chronic viral hepatitis are unaware of their infections. Effective tools are available to prevent infection with viral hepatitis, including hepatitis B vaccination, surveillance, education, screening, and treatment; the challenge is to build the capacity to extend these interventions globally. In 2010, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution urging greater control of viral hepatitis (2).

In Europe, HCV infection outbreaks and rising incidence have been observed among men who have sex with men (MSM) with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This issue of MMWR includes a report on sexual transmission of HCV among HIV-infected MSM in New York City. The findings emphasize the importance of HCV screening among these men, which allows for preventive care and treatment.

In the United States, World Hepatitis Day will be observed July 28 at a White House event. Information regarding the webcast of this event will be available at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

References

  1. Hu DJ, Bower WA, Ward JW. Viral hepatitis. In: Morse S, Moreland AA, Holmes KK, eds. Atlas of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. London, England: Elsevier; 2010:203--29.
  2. World Health Organization. Viral hepatitis. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2010. Available at http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/wha63/a63_r18-en.pdf. Accessed July 6, 2011.

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