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May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis, and many do not know they are infected. Every year, approximately 15,000 Americans die from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis. Despite this, viral hepatitis is not well known. In fact, as many as 75 percent of the millions of Americans with chronic viral hepatitis don’t know they’re infected. 

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. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections which can lead to liver cancer. 

Hepatitis A (HAV):

  • Liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus
  • Spread through fecal matter (poor hygiene)
  • Acute condition that generally goes away with no treatment
  • Vaccine available for hepatitis A

Hepatitis B (HBV):

  • Liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus
  • Spread through bodily fluids and sharing personal items
  • Acute HBV occurs in about 95 percent of the cases and chronic HBV in about 5 percent of the cases
  • Chronic HBV can lead to serious liver damage, liver scarring, and liver cancer
  • Chronic HBV treatment is an option for and successful in some people
  • Vaccine available for hepatitis B

Hepatitis C (HCV):

  • Liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus
  • Spread through blood (a person's blood comes in direct contact with infected blood)
  • Acute HCV occurs in 15-40 percent of the cases and chronic HCV in about 60-85 percent of the cases
  • Chronic HCV can lead to serious liver damage, liver scarring and liver cancer
  • Chronic HCV treatment is an option for and successful in many people
  • No vaccine available for hepatitis C

Hepatitis Risk Assessment: Online Tool

Find out if you should be tested by taking a 5-minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment, designed to determine an individual’s risk for viral hepatitis and ask questions based upon CDC’s guidelines for testing and vaccination. This risk assessment tool 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. May 19 is National Hepatitis Testing Day

May 18 is Hepatitis Testing Day. Learn more: http://www.cdc.gov/Hepatitis/TestingDay/index.htm

Please join in support of this national education initiative Know More Hepatitis aimed to decrease the burden of chronic viral hepatitis by increasing awareness about this hidden epidemic and encouraging people who may be chronically infected to get tested. 

Hepatitis Awareness Month