Published on: April 25, 2023
Don’t let hepatitis go unnoticed: May is the perfect time to get tested and stay informed. Join the national efforts in Hepatitis Awareness Month 2023 and on May 19th for Hepatitis Testing Day and take control of your health. Find out how you can stay up-to-date on the latest information and resources to help prevent the spread of this disease.
Hepatitis Awareness Month is observed in May each year to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment. Over the span of 31 days, government organizations and offices as well as U.S. state partners work towards making vaccination and testing readily available. There are an estimated 62,000 people living with hepatitis B and 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C. Even though hepatitis is completely preventable and treatable, if untreated, it can lead to serious health complications like liver cancer and cirrhosis.
One key event during the month is National Hepatitis Testing Day on May 19th. This day is dedicated to encouraging individuals to get tested for viral hepatitis. Across the country, organizations and individuals will host events and activities for the public to access free testing, support, vaccinations, and education on the impacts of viral hepatitis.
In Tampa Bay, by working together as a community, we can combat the spread of hepatitis and improve the health outcomes for those affected. Let’s take advantage of the resources available to us and make testing and vaccinations more accessible during Hepatitis Awareness Month.
- Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and can be caused by a virus among other things.
- There are several types of viruses that can cause hepatitis including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
- The leading cause of liver cancer in the U.S. is Chronic Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C which worldwide causes 3 million fatalities each year.
- Hepatitis A and B are preventable with vaccines and Hepatitis C is curable with appropriate treatment.
- More than half of persons living with hepatitis are unaware of their infection since they have no symptoms.
- One way to prevent a hepatitis infection is to get regular testing and vaccinations.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a medical condition characterized by inflammation of the liver. The inflammation can be caused by a variety of factors, including viral infections, chemicals, drugs, alcohol consumption, and certain medications. The most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C. Depending on the type and the course of the virus, the symptoms can be acute, only flaring up occasionally, or chronic, with long-term symptoms leading to more severe damage.
Each type is caused by a different virus and can have a range of symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). In some cases, hepatitis can lead to serious complications, such as liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.
It is important to be aware of the risk factors for hepatitis and to get tested if you think you may have been exposed to the virus.
History of Hepatitis Awareness Month and Hepatitis Testing Day
Hepatitis Awareness Month has been observed in the United States since 2001. The first National Hepatitis Awareness Month campaign was established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Later, the National Hepatitis Testing Day was chosen to coincide with Hepatitis Awareness Month, which is typically held on May 19th and was first observed in 2012. Today, the observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month is a collaborative effort by various organizations, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable (NVHR), as well as other organizations.
The goal of Hepatitis Awareness Month is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment. This awareness campaign includes educating the public about the risks and impacts of viral hepatitis and the importance of testing and vaccination. It also encourages people to get tested for viral hepatitis and to seek treatment if necessary.
How to Get Involved
Hepatitis Awareness Month and Testing Day can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s an important topic to discuss. Here are 3 simple ways to get involved and make a difference during this May and on May 19th:
- If you are wondering how you can get involved, one of the best services you can do to help is getting tested and vaccinated! By raising awareness of the importance of testing and vaccination for viral hepatitis, we can help more people get access to these resources in their area. Those who are living with hepatitis but are unaware of their status are at severe risk for health complications that can be fatal. This knowledge gap is why it’s crucial that we take viral hepatitis seriously and make testing and vaccination widely available across the country. Let’s take action and make a difference by getting tested and vaccinated during Hepatitis Awareness Month.
- One powerful way to get involved is by sharing credible information about viral hepatitis on social media throughout May and on May 19th. With many young people affected by the disease, it’s crucial that they have access to accurate information about testing and vaccination options. Sharing resources from reputable sources such as the CDC is a great way to spread accurate information. The CDC provides a wealth of information and infographics that you can share on your social media platforms. By sharing these resources, you can play a vital role in educating and empowering individuals to take control of their hepatitis status.
- If you have recently been diagnosed with viral hepatitis, you can play an important role in preventing the spread of the infection. This preventive work includes practicing good hygiene, avoiding behaviors that may put others at risk (such as sharing needles or engaging in unprotected sex), and seeking treatment from a healthcare professional. Healthcare clinics, such as IDATB in Tampa, FL, can provide you with vaccines for Hepatitis A and B and offer treatment options for Hepatitis B and C. By taking these steps, you can not only improve your own health outcomes, but also help to protect those around you.
Hepatitis Cases in Tampa, Florida
In recent years, Florida and Tampa have seen a high number of cases of viral Hepatitis. According to the CDC, Florida has some of the highest rates of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the United States. The state has also seen an increase in the number of cases of Hepatitis A in recent years, primarily among men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people experiencing homelessness.
In Florida, the rate of Hepatitis C is higher than the national average. Florida had the second-highest rate of reported acute Hepatitis C cases in the U.S. as well as the first-highest number of reported chronic Hepatitis cases in the U.S. from 2019 to 2020. Additionally, the rate of new diagnoses of Hepatitis C in Tampa is also higher than the state average.
To address the high rates of viral hepatitis in Florida and Tampa, public health officials and community organizations have been working to increase testing and vaccination rates, and to improve access to care and treatment for people living with viral hepatitis. This ongoing work includes increasing awareness and education about the risks of hepatitis and the importance of getting tested and encouraging people to get vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B. Additionally, Florida and local Tampa area government officials have been working on increasing access to testing and treatment, particularly for marginalized communities and people at high risk of infection, such as people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness.
Infectious Disease Associates of Tampa Bay
Infectious Disease Associates of Tampa Bay (IDATB) provides high-quality healthcare services for patients in the Tampa Bay metro area. If you or someone who lives with you would like to get tested for viral Hepatitis, IDATB is here to help. With over 30 years of experience, IDATB has been treating Floridians with infectious diseases while providing an in-house lab for any necessary testing. If you have any questions or concerns about infectious diseases or viral Hepatitis, then please call IDATB at 813-251-8444.
- HEPATITIS TESTING DAY – May 19, 2023 – National Today
- Hepatitis Awareness Month | CDC
- Hepatitis Awareness Month (May) | HHS.gov
- Hepatitis | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Data and Trends | HHS.gov
- 2019-2020 Rates of Reported Acute Hepatitis C Cases | CDC
- table-3.5.pdf (cdc.gov)
- 2022-december-hep-a-report.pdf (floridahealth.gov)