May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month
May 3, 2013 • 0 comments • By Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesMay 1 marks the start of the month-long observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month. The observance is an important element of government-wide efforts to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and decrease health disparities by educating communities about the benefits of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care, and treatment.
Throughout the month of May, HHS and our partners who support the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis will be engaged in a variety of activities to increase awareness—among the public and healthcare providers—about viral hepatitis, including the importance of testing, the availability of care and treatment, and associated adverse health effects resulting from undiagnosed and untreated viral hepatitis. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing several blog posts about implementation of the Action Plan.
On May 19, we will observe the second annual Hepatitis Testing Day. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States. An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. This places them at greater risk for severe, even fatal, complications from the disease and increases the likelihood that they will spread the virus to others.
Hepatitis Testing Day was established in the Action Plan as a means to raise awareness and educate health care providers and the public about who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Unfortunately, many communities and populations remain uninformed about various facets of viral hepatitis, including associated adverse health effects, the need for testing and care, and the availability of vaccines (for hepatitis A and hepatitis B) and treatment – especially priority populations at high risk for viral hepatitis, such as injection drug users; people living with HIV; gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; baby boomers (people born between 1945-1965); African Americans; and Asians and Pacific Islanders.
Please join us in promoting both of these important observances—Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day—to enhance public awareness of viral hepatitis prevention, testing, care and treatment across the United States. Here are a few things you can do:
- Learn more about awareness activities, including testing events, taking place in communities around the country to mark Hepatitis Testing Day. This page from CDC allows people to search for Hepatitis Testing Day events taking place near them in May. Event organizers can also list their events.
- Review the web badges, digital tools, fact sheets, posters and other resources available from CDC on this page and find one you can use this month.
- Take this 5-minute online hepatitis risk assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report on hepatitis testing and vaccination recommendations.
- Read more about the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan on our recently updated page.