Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
Awareness Months – Hepatitis
Hepatitis itself is not caused by sexual activity; the word ‘hepatitis’ means inflammation of the liver. However, hepatitis is often the result of one of several viruses, which is why it is commonly called viral hepatitis, and those viruses can be sexually transmitted. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Every year, over 15,000 Americans die from liver cancer or chronic liver disease associated with viral hepatitis. Even so, viral hepatitis is not well known. In fact, as many as 75 percent of the millions of Americans with chronic viral hepatitis don’t know they’re infected. As a result, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) launched a national education initiative aimed at decreasing the burden of chronic viral hepatitis by increasing awareness and encouraging people to get tested.
The month of May has been designated Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 is the 2nd Annual National Hepatitis Testing Day. Join The STI Project in support of the CDC’s ‘Know More Hepatitis’ campaign, Hepatitis Awareness Month, and National Hepatitis Testing Day!
Are you at risk?
Because most people with hepatitis are unaware they have it, the only way to know for sure is to get tested.
For Hep C, those born from 1950-1959 are disproportionately affected. For Hep B, adults between the ages of 20-49 have the highest rate of infection.
To encourage those who might be at a higher risk than others, the online Hepatitis Risk Assessment was designed to determine an individual’s risk for viral hepatitis and asks questions based upon the CDC’s recommendations for testing and vaccination. The Hepatitis Risk Assessment allows individuals to answer questions privately, either in their home or in a health care setting, and print their recommendations to discuss with their doctor.
How can you help?
- Getting educated – Hepatitis often has no signs or symptoms. Learn more about hepatitis and arm yourself with information about hepatitis’ causes, complications, and treatment.
- Getting tested and vaccinated – Knowing your status is one of the steps in preventing all STD transmission. Find a private provider or a nearby free or low-cost STD testing facility. And if you haven’t been vaccinated (many who were born before 1982 haven’t), find out where to get a hepatitis vaccine.
- Practicing prevention – Hepatitis can be prevented. Learn how you can prevent hepatitis.
- Eliminating stigma and misconceptions – Follow The STI Project’s blog for information about hepatitis, news, and resources!
- Support other organizations’ efforts – Check out some of the other awesome organizations working to promote different STD awareness months.
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Are you getting tested during hepatitis awareness month? Are you a supporter of other awareness months? Is there a another resource or a way our readers can take action which we should include here? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!