Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. In the US, there are three main viruses that cause viral hepatitis – hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high in 2014 and in 2013 surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis. Yet, 75% of the more than 5 million Americans living with viral hepatitis don’t know they are infected.
May 19 is Hepatitis Testing Day, a reminder to all of us about who should be tested for viral hepatitis. The CDC recommends baby boomers (people born from 1945-1965) get tested for hepatitis C and those born in Asia or the Pacific Islands or those whose parents were born there get tested for hepatitis B. The good news is that hepatitis A and B can both be prevented by a vaccine. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, new anti-viral treatments can cure the disease.
Talk to your doctor to find out if you should get tested or take the CDC Hepatitis Risk Assessment. To find the nearest free, fast, and confidential testing location, the CDC offers an online search tool. For more hepatitis resources and services in Arizona, visit the Arizona Hepatitis C Resource Directory and the ADHS hepatitis website.