May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19th is Hepatitis Testing Day. These observances present opportunities to raise awareness about, recognize the impact of, and decrease the stigma associated with viral hepatitis in the United States. Viral hepatitis is a leading public health threat in the United States, contributing to cirrhosis, liver cancer and transplants, and—prior to the COVID-19 pandemic—more deaths than any other infectious disease. Check out resources for observing Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day below, followed by additional information regarding viral hepatitis in the United States and the role of local health departments in the prevention and elimination of viral hepatitis.
Observing Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day
This Hepatitis Awareness Month, NACCHO is partnering with NASTAD and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable to launch the Hepatitis Network for Education and Testing (HepNET), with a goal of identifying and addressing the unmet needs of people who inject drugs (PWID) and improving their access to viral hepatitis education, prevention, testing, linkage to care, and treatment. Please join us on May 12th for Town Hall to support the launch and implementation of HepNET. For more information or to register, visit here.
NACCHO is also promoting new hepatitis B (HBV) vaccination guidelines from CDC this Hepatitis Awareness Month, which call for universal testing of adults aged 19-59. Learn more here.
Visit CDC’s Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day page to learn more and access promotional materials, including educational materials and social media messages. Follow and tag @CDChep on Twitter and use the following hashtags to participate in the discussion: #HepAware2022, #HepatitisAwarenessMonth, and #Hepatitis.
You can also follow @NACCHOalerts on Twitter to learn more about the role of local health departments in hepatitis prevention and elimination throughout the month.
Viral Hepatitis in the U.S. and the Role of Local Health Departments in Prevention & Elimination
The viral hepatitis epidemic in the U.S. involves three related viruses: hepatitis A (HAV), which is primarily spread through person-to-person contact or ingestion of contaminated food or water; hepatitis B (HBV), which is primarily spread through sexual contact, sharing syringes and other injection equipment, or perinatally from parent to child at birth; and hepatitis C (HCV), which is primarily spread through injection drug use but can also be spread sexually or perinatally.
In recognition of Hepatitis Awareness Month, NACCHO is launching a new infographic characterizing viral hepatitis trends in the U.S., opportunities and barriers related to the prevention and elimination of viral hepatitis, and the role of local health departments (LHDs) in hepatitis prevention and elimination. Check out the infographic here.
We have the tools to eliminate viral hepatitis in the U.S., but social and structural barriers, stigma and discrimination, and insufficient funding limit access to services and contribute to inequities significant gaps and barriers remain:
As a result of these barriers and gaps, viral hepatitis is on the rise in the U.S.:
LHDs play a critical role in the prevention and elimination of viral hepatitis, assuring access to hepatitis surveillance, prevention, testing, and treatment services.
LHDs also lead a coordinated, cross-sector approach to hepatitis within the broader context of the syndemic of HIV/STIs, viral hepatitis, and substance use.
However, LHDs face myriad barriers and need significant support to scale up hepatitis services and ultimately prevent and eliminate viral hepatitis: