May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, dedicated to shedding light on the impact of viral hepatitis across the United States.

Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver, which acts as the body’s filter. When untreated, it can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant and death. Hepatitis can be caused by several factors, including toxins, excess alcohol use, autoimmune diseases, fat in the liver and viruses.

While several different viruses can cause hepatitis, the most common types of viral hepatitis include hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV). According to the World Health Organization’s 2024 Global Hepatitis Report, the number of lives lost due to viral hepatitis is increasing, making it the second leading infectious cause of death globally.

In the United States, about 2.4 million Americans are living with HCV, and nearly 2.2 million could be living with HBV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2022, there were about 4,500 acute HAV cases, 13,800 acute HBV cases and 67,400 acute HCV cases, according to HepVu data. The total number of HBV and HCV cases remains unclear because many people are unaware of their infection, including about 66% of people with HBV.

Experts emphasize the need for viral hepatitis surveillance systems to develop strategies for prevention and treatment and to reduce disparities related to viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis Awareness Month encourages hepatitis prevention, screening and treatment for all Americans to help eliminate viral hepatitis, which disproportionately impacts underserved communities.

According to HepVu, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders make up nearly half of all people living with HBV, despite representing only about 5% of the U.S. population. What’s more, American Indian/Alaskan Natives, non-Hispanic Black folks, people living with HIV, people experiencing homelessness and baby boomers are significantly impacted by viral hepatitis.

To increase awareness about hepatitis, the CDC asks individuals to learn the “ABCs of Viral Hepatitis,” which provides an overview of the most common types of hepatitis. The factsheet includes information on how different types of hepatitis are spread, ways to prevent hepatitis and methods of treatment.

Hepatitis Awareness Month themes include:

  • Week 1 (May 6–10): Reaching key populations and high-impact settings
  • Week 2 (May 13–17): Protecting young families and pregnant persons
  • Week 3 (May 20–24): Accelerating HCV point-of-care testing to expand test-to-cure

Click here to learn more and to sign up for educational webinars this May through the CDC.

With Hepatitis Testing Day approaching (May 19), spread the word on social media by using #HepAware2023, #HepatitisAwarenessMonth, #HepatitisTestingDay, #Hepatitis and #NHAM.

To read more, click #Viral Hepatitis. There, you’ll find headlines such as “Gilead Announced $4M Grant for Viral Hepatitis Elimination,” “WHO Sounds Alarm on Viral Hepatitis Infections Claiming 3,500 Lives Each Day” and “Hepatitis Surveillance Systems Lack Funding.