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New Jersey Department of Health Joins in World Hepatitis Day July 28


In recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the New Jersey Department of Health is joining the World Health Alliance (WHA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness about the global burden of viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The most common types are hepatitis A, B and C — three different contagious liver infections caused by unrelated viruses. Hepatitis A typically occurs in an "acute" or time-limited form, while hepatitis B and C can develop into a life-long, chronic illness.

In 2016, there were 74 hepatitis A cases reported, 59 acute hepatitis B cases and 227 newly-identified chronic hepatitis B cases. There were also 122 acute hepatitis C cases and 8,006 chronic hepatitis C cases reported.

“Residents should talk with their healthcare provider about their risks for hepatitis and steps they can take to protect themselves,” Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett said. “Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with safe and effective vaccination.”

An online assessment tool to determine risk factors for hepatitis is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at here

Hepatitis A virus can cause mild to severe illness, but it does not lead to chronic infections. Hepatitis A is usually spread through contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person.

Hepatitis B infection is spread through blood and body fluids. People can be infected when they have sexual contact or share needles with an infected person. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. Hepatitis B can cause acute or chronic liver disease. 

The Department’s Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) helps in leading the NJ Hep B Coalition, a partner of the Hep B United national coalition, which consist of 27 coalitions across the country, dedicated to reducing the health disparities associated with hepatitis B.

“Every activity that addresses viral hepatitis is a step toward the elimination of hepatitis,” said OMMH Executive Director and NJ HepB Coalition co-chair Carolyn Daniels.

"There is no reason for any child to become infected with hepatitis B," added Commissioner Bennett. “Every pregnant woman should be tested for hepatitis B during their first prenatal visit so that babies born to infected mothers can receive treatment to prevent infection.  In addition, every newborn should be vaccinated against hepatitis B within 24 hours of birth." 

Click here to learn more about protecting newborns from Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with infected blood through sharing needles, syringes or other equipment to inject drugs, needle stick injuries in healthcare settings, being born to a mother with hepatitis C, or sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person. Less commonly, people can be infected through sexual contact with an infected person.

“Many people with hepatitis C have no symptoms and live with the disease for decades without feeling sick, all while liver damage may be taking place without their knowledge,” Bennett said. “That’s why it is critical to get tested if you are in a high-risk category. There are effective treatments available for people who are infected with the virus.” Current treatments for hepatitis C offer a more than 90 percent cure rate.

The CDC recommends that everyone born from 1945 to 1965 get a blood test for hepatitis C. People born during these years are five times more likely to be infected and account for more than three out of every four Americans living with hepatitis C. 

World Hepatitis Day, sponsored by the WHO, has evolved into a global campaign and initiative to eliminate Hepatitis B and C within the next 13 years. 

For more information on hepatitis A, B and C, including who should get tested and/or vaccinated, visit:

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

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