July 28 Is World Hepatitis Day

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TRENTON — To raise public awareness, strengthen viral hepatitis prevention programs and increase the delivery of the hepatitis B vaccine, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is joining the World Health Organization (WHO) to highlight July 28 as World Hepatitis Day.

“Hepatitis affects nearly 5,000 New Jersey residents each year,” said Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan. “There are many different types of hepatitis and it’s important to know your risk because it can be spread by people who are not aware they have the disease.”


Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The most common types of the disease are hepatitis A, B and C – three different contagious liver diseases caused by three unrelated viruses. Hepatitis A typically occurs in an “acute” or one time-limited form, while hepatitis B and C may develop into life-long, chronic illness.

The best way to prevent hepatitis A and B is by getting vaccinated, although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is highly infectious and is spread through direct contact with infected blood or bodily fluid such as semen or vaginal fluid. Children born to mothers with hepatitis B can develop the infection. Hepatitis C is spread through direct contact with infected blood, but rarely passed on through other body fluids. People with hepatitis B and C may be infected for years without recognizing they are infected.

Worldwide, nearly 500 million persons are living with chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C. An estimated one million of those who are infected die each year, primarily from cirrhosis or liver cancer as a result of their chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. And roughly 3.5–5.3 million Americans are living with chronic viral hepatitis, many of whom do not know that they are infected. Viral hepatitis claims the lives of an estimated 15,000 Americans each year and is a leading infectious cause of death.

More information is available on hepatitis A, B and C on the NJDHSS website at http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/vpdp/index.shtml or at the CDC http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/.

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