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On World Hepatitis Day, Think Again About This Silent Killer
Start Date: 7/25/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 7/25/2014
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS—On Monday, July 28, the World Health Organization and partners such as the Indiana State Department of Health will recognize World Hepatitis Day with the goal of increasing awareness of viral hepatitis and the diseases it causes. The theme for the seventh annual World Hepatitis Day is “Think Again,” which means to consider this silent killer and your own risk.


Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by different viruses, including hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Viral hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. But many people may not know they are infected or at risk of infection. World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions, such as:

·         strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;

·         increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programs; and

·         coordinating a global response to viral hepatitis.


The most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B and C. As of 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nationwide, as many as 3.9 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection. In Indiana in 2011, 24 cases of hepatitis A, 70 cases of hepatitis B and more than 5,600 cases of hepatitis C were reported to the Indiana State Department of Health.


“Hepatitis can lead to liver disease and liver cancer,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Knowing your status can help prevent serious problems and stop the spread of disease to others.”    


Hepatitis A is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B and C are both spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Common modes of transmission for hepatitis B and C include the transmission of the infection from mother to child during childbirth, sexual contact, intravenous drug use and reusing contaminated needles, including those used for tattoos, body piercing, home blood sugar testing and injection of drugs. There are safe and effective vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B, and treating babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B within hours of delivery greatly reduces the likelihood that they will become infected.


Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, you can protect yourself against hepatitis C infection by avoiding risk factors like using intravenous drugs and reusing needles. Other risk factors for hepatitis C include having HIV, receiving body piercing or tattoos with non-sterile instruments and sex with partners already infected with hepatitis C.


Most Americans with hepatitis B and C are unaware they are infected until they begin to have complications from their infections. State health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to increase viral hepatitis awareness by talking with their doctor about risk factors, getting tested and getting vaccinated.  State health officials recommend a one-time hepatitis blood test for everyone between the ages of 48 and 68 years old. Treatments are available for both hepatitis B and C, and knowing your hepatitis status can help prevent ongoing spread of disease. Visit your health care provider and ask about testing.    


To learn more about World Hepatitis Day 2014, visit


Visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at For important health information and updates, follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at


Contact Information:
Name: Amanda Turney
Phone: (317) 233-7254
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Family & Health
  • Agency Name
    Health, Indiana State Department of

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