May 16, 2012
Concord, NH - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Know More Hepatitis campaign was officially announced on World Hepatitis Day, July 28, 2011 at a special White House event to release the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Combating the Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis: Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. The plan calls for a national education campaign to educate people about viral hepatitis and encourage them to get tested. As part of this educational initiative, May 19th has been designated as national “Hepatitis Testing Day” in the United States.
The first ever Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19, 2012 is an opportunity to remind health care providers and the public about who should be tested for chronic viral hepatitis. Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them don’t know it. Chronic viral hepatitis is considered to be a “silent” disease because it progresses slowly and rarely causes symptoms until decades after infection. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viruses that multiply in the liver causing inﬂammation. By the time a person shows symptoms, the damage to the liver can be serious. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 75% of those with chronic viral hepatitis don’t know they have it and aren’t getting treatment or making the lifestyle changes necessary to protect their livers. The consequences of this are starting to show as the death rate from hepatitis C surpassed the death rate for HIV in 2007.
"Hepatitis is a virus that is passed through blood transmission (such as needles), through sexual contact, or from mother to unborn child,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. "The question then becomes who should be tested? If you fall into one of the high-risk groups, talk with your medical provider about a simple test—it could save your life.”
There are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others. The following groups are recommended to be tested for hepatitis C:
о Baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965, before testing of the blood supply became standard
о Anyone who had a blood transfusion before July 1992
о Anyone who has ever injected drugs, even if it was once a long time ago
о People with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
о Anyone on hemodialysis
о People who have been exposed to blood on the job such as through a needle stick
о Those who have had a non-professional tattoo or piercing
The following groups are recommended to be tested for hepatitis B:
о People born in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Haiti, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, South America’s Amazon Basin, rural Alaska, or Hawaii; if you, your parents, or your children were born in any of these places, speak with your medical provider
о People with sexual or household contact with someone who is infected with hepatitis B
о Men who have or have ever had sex with men
о People who use injection drugs
о Pregnant women
о People with HIV
о People on hemodialysis
о Those on chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant drugs
For more information about hepatitis, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis. For questions or concerns about hepatitis, call the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496 or 800-852-3345 x4496. If you are interested in attending the New Hampshire Viral Hepatitis Program’s Hepatitis C Workshop, June 12 in Manchester, NH, contact Patricia Jackson, DHHS Viral Hepatitis Coordinator at 603-271-5720.