Reducing Viral Hepatitis Disparities Among African Americans
- Hepatitis B and C are liver diseases caused by viruses.
- Anyone can get hepatitis B or hepatitis C, but African Americans bear a disproportionate burden of disease.
- Most people living with viral hepatitis do not know they are infected.
- Chronic hepatitis infections cause liver damage, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer, often with no symptoms.
- Hepatitis B can be prevented with a safe and effective vaccine.
- Both hepatitis B and C viruses can be transmitted through exposure to blood or through sex.
- Getting a simple blood test is the only way to know if you have been exposed to viral hepatitis.
- Treatments exist for both hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
What the Government Is Doing to Address Viral Hepatitis in All CommunitiesThe Federal Government is committed to working with community and a broad array of partners to ensure that new cases of viral hepatitis are prevented and that people who are already infected are tested and provided with counseling, care, and treatment. Agencies across the government are collaborating to implement the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis, released in May 2011. The plan seeks to increase the proportion of Americans who are aware of their viral hepatitis infection; reduce the number of new cases of hepatitis C infection; and eliminate mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B. Whether we work in health care, government, the faith community, or the private sector, all of us can contribute to “combating the silent epidemic of viral hepatitis” in the United States. The time is now!