May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19th is national Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States.
Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them do not know they are infected. Hepatitis Testing Day is an opportunity to remind the public who should be tested for viral hepatitis.
Four Things You Should Know About Viral Hepatitis:
- Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are all different diseases.
Each type of hepatitis is caused by a different virus and spread in different ways. Hepatitis Adoes not cause a long-term infection, although it can make people very sick. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections and lead to serious health problems.
- Chronic hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer.
Chronic hepatitis B and C can cause serious damage to the liver, including liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. In fact, more than 60 percent of liver cancer cases are related to hepatitis B or C.
- Most people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected.
There are an estimated 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C and 862,000 people living with hepatitis B in the United States, but most do not know they are infected. Many people live with chronic hepatitis for decades without symptoms or feeling sick.
- Getting tested could save your life.
Lifesaving treatments for chronic hepatitis B can slow down liver damage and new treatments are available that can cure hepatitis C Still, getting tested is the only way to know if you are infected. Take CDC’s Hepatitis Risk Assessment to see if you should be tested for viral hepatitis.