Combating the Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis
Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis
Viral hepatitis is a silent epidemic in the United States. Although it is a leading infectious cause of death and claims the lives of 12,000–15,000 Americans each year, viral hepatitis remains virtually unknown to the general public, at-risk populations, and policymakers; even health care providers sometimes lack knowledge and awareness about these infections. As a consequence, most of the 3.5–5.3 million Americans living with viral hepatitis do not know that they are infected, placing them at greater risk for severe, even fatal, complications from the disease and increasing the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to ensuring that new cases of viral hepatitis are prevented and that persons who are already infected are tested; informed about their infection; and provided with counseling, care, and treatment. On May 12, 2011, HHS issued Combating the Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis: Action Plan for the Prevention, Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis (PDF 672KB) which outlines robust and dynamic steps to increase viral hepatitis awareness and knowledge among health care providers and communities, and improve access to quality prevention, care, and treatment services for viral hepatitis. Some of these life-saving actions already are well underway. Other actions, representing innovations in practice, technology, and therapy, will require new strategic directions and commitment.