This World Hepatitis Day, the World Health Organization continues to build upon its strategy to combat viral hepatitis and achieve the final goal of eliminating hepatitis. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is often caused by a virus. The three most common viruses that cause viral hepatitis in the U.S. are hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis B and C can become chronic (lifelong) infections which can cause serious health problems including liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. Yet, most people don’t know that they are infected.
Nearly 400 million people around the world have chronic viral hepatitis, including more than five million Americans. Hepatitis B and C are two of the most commonly reported infectious diseases in Arizona. The 2016 Viral Hepatitis Epidemiologic Profile for Arizona shows that around 1,000 cases of hepatitis B were reported each year in the past decade and that there were over 117,000 hepatitis C cases identified from 1998 through 2015.
Hepatitis A and B can both be prevented by vaccines. While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, newer treatments for hepatitis C can cure most people. The CDC recommends people born from 1945 to 1965 get tested for hepatitis C, and that those born in Asia or the Pacific Islands or whose parents were born there get tested for hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor to find out if you should get tested or take the CDC hepatitis risk assessment. For hepatitis resources and services in Arizona, please visit hepatitisaz.org.
ADHS will be supporting the American Liver Foundation’s World Hepatitis Day Event on Friday, July 28. Free hepatitis C testing and educational activities will be provided at Banner Estrella Medical Center, 9201 West Thomas Road in Phoenix, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.