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Hepatitis B

May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month

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May is designated as Hepatitis Awareness Month in the U.S., an opportunity to promote better understanding of and encourage testing and care for viral hepatitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that about 1 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B. Fortunately the rate of infection has declined by more than 80% since an effective vaccine became widely available and is now included in routine childhood immunizations.

Experts estimate that approximately 4 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C. Interest in hepatitis C and its treatment has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to development of new direct-acting antiviral drugs that are revolutionizing therapy, making it more effective and -- for many patients -- shorter. But an effective hepatitis C vaccine is not yet available and remains a goal of research.

Both hepatitis B and C are more common among people of color. Hepatitis B is especially prevalent among Asians and Pacific Islanders. Experts think that a majority of infected people have not been tested and are unaware of their status.

May 19 has been designated as the first Hepatitis Testing Day. Guidelines recommend that all people with HIV be tested for hepatitis B and C, and recent studies support screening for "Baby Boomers" in the 45-65 year age range. The availability of better treatments for hepatitis B and C provide all the more reason to get tested.

For further information about Hepatitis Awareness month and hepatitis B and C, see the following sites:

5/2/12

Sources

R Valdiserri and J Ward. May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Blog.AIDS.gov. April 30, 2012.

CDC. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HepAwarenessMonth.htm.