May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month


May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in the U.S., an opportunity to promote better understanding of viral hepatitis and to encourage more people to get tested and receive care for hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis Testing Day is coming up on May 19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis B. The rate of new infections has decreased dramatically since the introduction of an effective vaccine as a routine childhood immunization, but many adults remain unprotected.

According to the latest estimate, approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C. Both the CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that all Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965 be screened for hepatitis C virus (HCV) at least once. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Awareness of hepatitis C and its treatment has increased in recent years thanks to the development of new direct-acting antiviral agents that promise to make treatment shorter, better tolerated, and much more effective than the old standard of care, pegylated interferon plus ribavirin. As reported at the recent EASL International Liver Congress, all-oral combinations containing Gilead Sciences' recently approved HCV polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) or AbbVie's "3D" regimen (now undergoing FDA review) produced cure rates approaching 100%.

Over years or decades chronic hepatitis B or C can lead to serious liver disease including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is a leading indication for liver transplantation in the U.S. and worldwide. Getting tested and treated is the best way to reduce the risk.




R Valdiserri. May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month. April 28, 2014.

CDC. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. Updated April 24, 2014.