10 Things to Know About Hepatitis

Maureen Fitzerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx
May 14, 2018

1. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month.

One of the most important things to know is that many (millions) may be infected without knowing it. And people who use drugs and alcohol are at greater risk of getting and transmitting viral hepatitis.

With Hepatitis Testing Day coming up on May 19, here are a few more facts to help you and your patients, if you are a healthcare professional, stay in the know about this preventable and curable virus:

2. Since 2012, there have been more deaths to HCV than all 60 of the other reportable infectious diseases combined. HHS: Viral Hepatitis in the United States: Data and Trends.

The greatest increase in HCV has been among young people:
CDC, Increase in Hepatitis C Infections Linked to Worsening Opioid Crisis

Source: CDC 

3.  Successful treatments can clear the HCV virus from the body.
"Several medications are available to treat chronic hepatitis C, including newer treatments that have been found to be more effective and have fewer side effects than previous treatment options. The latest treatment options for hepatitis C are antiviral medications. Most of the time, antiviral medication treatments involve daily medication for 12 weeks and depending on the specific medications being used, these have minimal side effects."  From HHS.Gov, Hepatitis C: How is hepatitis C treated

4. The ATTC Network offers a variety of free resources to boost your knowledge and understanding of Hepatitis C.  Find out about online and in-person training, downloadable tools, and region-specific resources at HCV Current.

5.  HCV is a blood-borne pathogen; the virus highly infectious and is easily transmitted through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment. Get more info from Mid-America ATTC's 2018 Hepatitis Awareness Month Info Sheet and Bulletin Insert.

6. How many hepatitis viruses are there? Hepatitis A, B, and C are the most common, but other types exist. Check out these fact sheets from the Northeast & Caribbean ATTC, available in English and Spanish: Let's Talk About Hepatitis/Hablemos sobre hepatitis!

7. Baby boomers should get tested. The CDC recommends that everyone born from 1945-1965 get tested for HCV. Why? Find out at the CDC website,  Know More Hepatitis

8. Who Can You Talk To About Hepatitis C?  One of the peer counselors at Help-4-Hep.

"Help-4-Hep is designed to connect callers to a live person," says Denny Simon of the Help-4-Hep Steering Committee. "Help-4-Hep peer counselors have access to more than 30,000 discreet resources, including information on infectious disease doctors and hepatologists who are accepting new patients, where to go for testing, and financial support for treatment. Not all of this is easy to find through a Google search." 
9. The U.S. is working to eliminate viral hepatitis. Read more about it in the HHS report, Progress Toward Viral Hepatitis Elimination in the United States, 2017 

10.  Screening for Hepatitis: Find out more about screening with SAMHSA's publication:  Hepatitis C Screening in the Behavioral Healthcare Setting

What other resources do you turn to to stay informed about viral hepatitis? Share your information in the comments section below.

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