Millions of Americans in every community are living with viral hepatitis. While anyone can be exposed, being informed about which communities are disproportionately impacted can help focus efforts on those most affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- African Americans born between 1945 and 1965 are twice as likely to be infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) compared to the general U.S. population.
- While Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs) make up less than 5% of the total population in the United States, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic Hepatitis B (HBV).
To help address this issue, we are collaborating with Ms. Corinna Dan, Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor at the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and several other healthcare organizations to host a Twitter chat commemorating Hepatitis Awareness Month on Wednesday, May 25 at 2pm, ET. This is an opportunity for providers, community-serving organizations, and individuals to learn more about the impact of viral hepatitis and the national efforts taking place to prevent and treat the disease.
Twitter Chat objectives:
- Increase national awareness about the incidence and prevalence of hepatitis A, B, and C, and the differences between them;
- Increase awareness about prevention and screening recommendations for viral hepatitis as well as the national Viral Hepatitis Action Plan;
- Inform participants about treatment options available for viral hepatitis; and
- Increase awareness about HCV and why it is important for people living with HIV and people working in the field.
We can only decrease the impact of viral hepatitis on our communities by working together. Please join us for the chat — learn more, share your efforts, and help spread the word about hepatitis in your communities. If you are wondering what else you can do, here are a few suggestions:
- Download resources and share them with others: In an effort to support stakeholders and community members in educating themselves and others about viral hepatitis, the CDC provides web badges, digital tools, fact sheets, infographics, and more here. Please feel free to use these resources and share them with others.
Under the Affordable Care Act, hepatitis A and B vaccines are covered preventive services with no copay. Ask your doctor to find hepatitis vaccination locations near you.
- Get tested for HBV and HCV: There are simple blood tests available for hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Ask your doctor to be tested if you think you’ve been exposed to HBV or HCV, because early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage and save lives. If you’re not sure if you’re at risk for HBV or HCV infection, try CDC’s online hepatitis risk assessment tool. The assessment takes 5 minutes and can be done privately at home or on your mobile phone. Share the results with your doctor or use the CDCNPIN’s Service Locator to find hepatitis services.
- Get vaccinated to prevent HBV: A safe and effective vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis B virus infection. The CDC recommends that adults at risk should be vaccinated including: people with HCV or other liver disease; diabetics; people at risk for blood exposure such as injection drug users, hemodialysis patients, and healthcare workers; and people at risk due to unprotected sex. See the full list of who should get vaccinated against HBV.
We’re looking forward to your participation on May 25 and continuing to unite with you in the fight against viral hepatitis.
This blog was originally published on AIDS.gov., and written by Jacqueline Coleman, M.Ed., MSM, Director, Leadership Pipeline, NMAC and Tanesha Burley, MPH, Project Manager, Altarum Institute