By Helene Bednarsh

The May/June issue of Public Health Reports includes an editorial on raising awareness of Viral Hepatitis and announced the first National Hepatitis Testing Day. Hepatitis has been referred to as a “Silent Epidemic” that affects about 5.3 million people in the United States.  There is concern about underreporting of cases and there is not a national standard among states for reporting.   Massachusetts is one state in which cases are reportable.

There are many medical complications associated with Hepatitis including cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer among them.  There is treatment to reduce disease progression and immunization for hepatitis A and B, but not for hepatitis C. It is important that everyone understands the signs and symptoms of hepatitis and talks to their doctor right away if they have concerns.

During May, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is releasing the first phase of the national education initiative called Know More Hepatitis.  The initiative aims to increase awareness about hepatitis and encourage people to get tested.  Free Know More Hepatitis resources, including posters and Hepatitis C testing fact sheets, are available here.

National Hepatitis Testing Day was May 19, but it’s not too late to get tested. Find a testing center near you by clicking here.

You can find more information about the prevention of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STIs, and tuberculosis in this searchable materials database.  The materials in the database are available, free of charge, to anyone via a link on a website and include training manuals, webinars, downloadable fact sheets, PDFs of posters.

CDC also recommended that all “baby boomers” in the US get a one-time test for the hepatitis C virus. One in 30 baby boomers – the generation born from 1945 through 1965 – has been infected with hepatitis C, and most don’t know it. Learn more here.

In addition, the CDC has announced an opportunity to apply for grants to support testing and linkage to care for HBV and HCV. This opportunity was made possible with funding the CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis received from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. To see the grant application, click here, or go to grants.gov and search “new this week.”

Helene is the director of the HIV Dental Program at BPHC. You can read more about her accomplishments in a recent Community Health Spotlight.

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