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World Hepatitis Day — July 28, 2012

July 28, 2012, marks the second annual World Hepatitis Day, established in 2010 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Viral hepatitis is a largely silent epidemic; however, it is the leading cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis around the world. Approximately 500 million persons are living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection; most are unaware of their infections, which contribute to nearly 1 million deaths annually (1).

In 2012, WHO established a global hepatitis program and developed a framework for the prevention and control of viral hepatitis that promotes a comprehensive approach with four strategic components: 1) awareness and advocacy; 2) data for decision making; 3) prevention of transmission; and 4) access to screening, care, and treatment.

This issue of MMWR includes a report from Egypt, which has the largest burden of HCV infection in the world. Much of the burden can be attributed to ongoing health-care–associated transmission. Through implementing an infection control program and providing subsidized care and treatment, major improvements in infection control were achieved, and nearly 190,000 persons received treatment otherwise not available. Despite these efforts, Egypt continues to have a large and growing hepatitis C epidemic and would benefit from a comprehensive viral hepatitis control program that includes raising community awareness, ensuring a safe blood supply, and establishing a viral hepatitis surveillance system.

Additional information about World Hepatitis Day is available at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

Reference

  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.

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