July 28, 2023 —Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) commemorate World Hepatitis Day on July 28 and emphasize this year’s theme, ‘We’re Not Waiting.’ This theme is “a call to accelerate elimination efforts of viral hepatitis now and the urgent need for testing and treatment for the real people who need it,” says the World Hepatitis Alliance. “Individuals and communities around the world are making change happen in their own lives and in world around them. We celebrate them, while demanding more action.” Please visit the World Hepatitis Day website for more information.
“Viral hepatitis is known as a silent disease where people often do not experience obvious symptoms until they develop serious complications. The more we understand how it is spread and know our status, the better we can protect ourselves and our community from its grave consequences like cirrhosis, liver cancer, or even death” says Louise Lockett Gordon, Epidemiology Supervisor for RHHD.
According to VDH data on communicable diseases, Hepatitis C and B are in the top 5 most reported conditions in Virginia (excluding COVID-19). Virginia students are required to complete the Hepatitis B vaccination series as part of routine school immunizations. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Many people who become infected with Hepatitis B or C do not experience symptoms and are unaware that they have the virus. Residents can reduce their risk of getting sick by taking the following precautions:
- Get tested – all adults 18 years and older should be screened for Hepatitis B and C at least once in their lifetime.
- Avoid sharing or reusing needles, syringes or any other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs, steroids, hormones, or other substances.
- Avoid using personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood, even in amounts too small to see, such as glucose monitors, razors, nail clippers, or toothbrushes.
- Avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
Residents can receive vaccines for Hepatitis A and B and be screened for Hepatitis B or C at their health care provider or at any of RHHD’s clinics. For more information about RHHD clinical services and to schedule an appointment, call (804) 205-3501. Residents can also find a testing site at the following link: CDC testing site locator.
As defined by the CDC, “Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver, a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. Hepatitis is most often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause affect liver function and can also cause hepatitis.
Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are sister public health agencies serving our connected communities. Our mission is to protect health, champion equity, and partner to address local needs.