Millions of Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis, and many do not know they are infected. In hopes of raising awareness about this hidden epidemic and increasing treatment of chronic viral hepatitis, the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis is leading a national education initiative this month encouraging people who may be chronically infected to get tested.
Unlike Hepatitis A, which does not cause a long-term infection, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become chronic, life-long infections. Chronic viral hepatitis can lead to serious liver problems including liver cancer. More than 4 million Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C in the United States, but most do not know they are infected. Since chronic hepatitis often does not cause any symptoms until serious liver damage has been done, testing for hepatitis is crucial.
Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause liver cancer and have contributed to the increase in rates of liver cancer in recent decades. At least half of new cases of liver cancer are from chronic Hepatitis C.
At Risk Populations
Some population groups are disproportionately affected by viral hepatitis-related liver cancer. The number of new cases of liver cancer is highest in Asian and Pacific Islanders and is increasing among African Americans, baby boomers, and men.
With early detection, many people can get lifesaving care and treatment that can limit disease progression, and prevent cancer deaths.
Vaccine-Preventable: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B can both be prevented with vaccines. Cases of Hepatitis A have dramatically declined in the U.S. over the last 20 years largely due to vaccination efforts. The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all children at one year of age and for adults who may be at increased risk.
Unfortunately, many people became infected with Hepatitis B before the Hepatitis B vaccine was widely available. The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants at birth and for adults who may be at increased risk. Talk to your physician about whether or not you meet those criteria.
Clinical Trials for Viral Hepatitis
Clinical trials offer patients with chronic liver disorders the opportunity to receive new and potentially highly effective medications that are not currently available by prescription. For instance, the Liver Institute of Virginia, located in Newport News and Richmond, has a medical staff with the ability to offer new and more effective treatments to patients with viral hepatitis B and C, fatty liver disease and other forms of liver disorders.
The Liver Institute of Virginia
Dr. Mitchell Shiffman is a nationally and internationally recognized authority and regularly teaches other physicians how to treat and care for various liver diseases. His practice treats patients with acute and chronic liver disease of any cause, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and patients who are either waiting for or have received a liver transplant. Educating patients about their liver disease is also a priority at the Liver Institute of Virginia, where Dr. Shiffman and his staff ensure that patients understand how liver disease is affecting their body, and how medications for treatment of liver disease are effective.
+ Learn more about the Liver Institute of Virginia.
+ Schedule an appointment with world-renowned liver specialist, Dr. Mitchell Shiffman.
+ Find a liver specialist near you in Hampton Roads or Richmond, Virginia.
Source: CDC “May is Hepatitis Awareness Month”