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Hepatitis Awareness Month and National Hepatitis Testing Day — May 2012

This month marks the 17th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month and the first National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) developed a comprehensive viral hepatitis action plan that outlines strategies in six areas to improve viral hepatitis prevention, care, and treatment in the United States (1). Three of these areas (protecting patients and workers from health-care–associated viral hepatitis, reducing viral hepatitis caused by drug-use behaviors, and strengthening surveillance) are highlighted by reports in this issue of MMWR.

The first report illustrates one major city's approach to tracking infection among patients exposed to hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) in health-care settings. The second report examines outbreaks of HBV infection associated with assisted blood glucose monitoring among residents of assisted living facilities in Virginia. Finally, a Notes from the Field describes an investigation of HCV transmission among young persons in Wisconsin, which provides further evidence of a troubling increase in the incidence of HCV infection associated with drug use among adolescents and young adults. The findings in all three reports underscore the importance of viral hepatitis surveillance in detecting outbreaks and changes in transmission patterns.

The HHS action plan also established May 19 as National Hepatitis Testing Day. Testing for viral hepatitis is the first step in linking HBV- and HCV-infected persons to recommended care and treatment. Additional information about National Hepatitis Testing Day activities is available at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Reference

  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Combating the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis: action plan for the prevention, care, and treatment of viral hepatitis. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2011.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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