Did you know that May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month?
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections which can lead to liver cancer. Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis, and many do not know they are infected.
CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis is leading a national education initiative called Know More Hepatitis. The initiative aims to decrease the burden of chronic viral hepatitis by increasing awareness about this hidden epidemic and encouraging people who may be chronically infected to get tested.
Online Hepatitis Risk Assessment
Know More Hepatitis is being featured in May as part of Hepatitis Awareness Month. This year, May 19th will serve as the first ever Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. Since chronic hepatitis often does not cause any symptoms until serious liver damage has been done, testing for hepatitis is crucial. Find out if you should be tested by taking a 5 minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment.
The online assessment is designed to determine an individual’s risk for viral hepatitis and asks questions based upon CDC’s guidelines for testing and vaccination. The Hepatitis Risk Assessment allows individuals to answer questions privately, either in their home or in a health care setting, and print their recommendations to discuss with their doctor.
The word “hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis is most often caused by one of several viruses, which is why it is often called viral hepatitis. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
Chronic Hepatitis can lead to Liver Cancer
Unlike Hepatitis A, which does not cause a long-term infection, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to serious liver problems including liver cancer. More than 4 million Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C in the United States, but most do not know they are infected. Every year, approximately 15,000 Americans die from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis.
Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer and have contributed to the increase in rates of liver cancer in recent decades. At least half of new cases of liver cancer are from chronic Hepatitis C.
Priority Populations and Liver Cancer
Some population groups are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis-related liver cancer. The number of new cases of liver cancer is highest in Asian and Pacific Islanders and is increasing among African Americans, baby boomers, and men.
With early detection, many people can get lifesaving care and treatment that can limit disease progression, and prevent cancer deaths.
Vaccine-preventable: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can both be prevented with vaccines. Cases of Hepatitis A have dramatically declined in the U.S. over the last 20 years largely due to vaccination efforts. The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at one year of age and for adults who may be at increased risk.
Unfortunately, many people became infected with Hepatitis B before the Hepatitis B vaccine was widely available. The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who may be at increased risk.
First Response’s Comments:
Knowing that May is Hepatitis awareness month is one thing; actually doing something about it is another. Many of my students in the first aid courses have little to no idea about hepatitis. They are very surprised when I inform them of the different kinds and mode of transmission. It is very much an eye opener. I have had first hand experience with a student who went to the aid of someone in a medical emergency and forgot the golden rule – ‘take care of yourself first’ and ended up getting exposed to Hep C/HIV infected body fluids. Please do your due diligence for yourself and your family, when it comes to getting involved in a medical emergency, certainly from a first aid point of view. Protect your self with gloves and a face shield if you are going to do breathing when a patient needs CPR. Don’t forget to check out our online store for a full range of First aid items for your first aid kit – you cannot buy face shields in a drug store or pharmacy – you have to purchase them from a safety supplier. Let me know your thoughts on this topic in the comment box below…
For more information go to http://www.cdc.gov/Hepatitis/HepAwarenessMonth.htm