NH DHHS Recognizes Hepatitis Awareness Month and Second Annual Testing Day

Concord, NH - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Know

More Hepatitis” campaign was officially announced on World Hepatitis Day,

July 28, 2011. This effort calls for a national campaign to educate people

about viral hepatitis to reduce the burden of disease and to encourage

people to get tested. As part of this initiative, May 19th has been

designated as national “Hepatitis Testing Day” in the United States, and

May is National Hepatitis Awareness Month.

Hepatitis Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind health care providers

and the public about who should be tested for viral hepatitis. Millions of

Americans have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them don’t know it.

Chronic viral hepatitis is considered to be a “silent” disease because it

progresses slowly and rarely causes symptoms until decades after infection.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are viruses that cause liver in?ammation which

can lead to other serious health conditions. Viral hepatitis is the leading

cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplants. By

the time a person shows symptoms, the damage to the liver has occurred.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 75% of those with chronic viral

hepatitis don’t know they have it and aren’t getting treatment or making

the lifestyle changes necessary to protect their health. In 2007, death

from viral hepatitis C surpassed the HIV rate for the first time.

“Hepatitis is a virus that is passed through blood transmission (such as by

needles), through sexual contact, or from mother to unborn child,” said Dr.

José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of

Health and Human Services. “Many people apparently were infected years or

decades ago, before as much was known about the viruses, and these cases

are just now coming to light. You could be at risk and not know it.”

There are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others and are

recommended to be tested for hepatitis C:

Baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965, before testing of the blood

supply became standard

Anyone who had a blood transfusion before July 1992

Anyone who has ever injected drugs, even if it was once a long time


People with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)

Anyone on hemodialysis

People who have been exposed to blood on the job such as through a

needle stick

Those who have had a non-professional tattoo or piercing

The following groups are recommended to be tested for hepatitis B:

People born in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Haiti, the Middle East,

the Pacific Islands, South America’s Amazon Basin, rural Alaska, or

Hawaii; if you, your parents, or your children were born in any of

these places, speak with your medical provider

People with sexual or household contact with someone who is infected

with hepatitis B

Men who have or have ever had sex with men

People who use injection drugs

Pregnant women

People with HIV

People on hemodialysis

Those on chemotherapy or other immunosuppressant drugs

For more information about hepatitis, visit the Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention (CDC) website at

http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HEPAwarenessMonth.htm. To take a free online

assessment to determine your risk visit

http://www.cdc.gov/HEPATITIS/riskassessment/. For questions or concerns

about hepatitis, call the DHHS Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at

603-271-4496 or 800-852-3345 x4496.