NH DHHS Recognizes World Hepatitis Day

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recognizes World Hepatitis Day, May 19, 2010, which is an initiative to raise awareness, prevent new infections and deliver real improvements in health outcomes for people living with viral hepatitis.

“Many individuals with chronic hepatitis are not aware that they have the disease, because they often show no symptoms until the liver is damaged,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health Services. “People who are at risk for infection should talk with their doctors to see if they should be tested for hepatitis B or C.”

Worldwide, up to 1 in 12 people are living with either chronic hepatitis B or C. While this is far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, awareness of the disease is low and the majority of those infected do not know they are.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver for which there are a wide range of causes. One of the most common causes of chronic (long-term) hepatitis is viral infection, which can be spread through direct contact with infected blood and body fluids. Hepatitis B and C are two such viruses that together kill approximately one million people a year. Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination. If people think they may be at risk for hepatitic C, it is important that they get tested as soon as possible to maximize their treatment options. At-risk behaviors include injecting illegal drugs, sharing needles or personal items, or having unprotected sex with an infected person.

This third annual World Hepatitis Day is an initiative coordinated by patients, for patients. It is part of an ongoing campaign launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance, a non-governmental organization that represents over 280 hepatitis B and hepatitis C patient groups from around the world.

For more information about hepatitis, visit the NH Department of Health and Human Services website at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/DHHS/CDCS/default.htm or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

For more information about World Hepatitis Day and how to get involved, visit the web site www.worldhepatitisalliance.org.