PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cathleen D. Bennett
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day

New Jersey Department of Health joins global NOhep movement

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the New Jersey Department of Health and the NJ HepB Coalition will join the United HepB Foundation and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) in the global NOhep campaign to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

This year marks the first-ever World Health Organization’s global strategy to wipe out viral hepatitis.

Viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The most common types are hepatitis A, B and C – three different contagious liver infections caused by unrelated viruses. Hepatitis A typically occurs in an "acute" or time-limited form, while hepatitis B and C can develop into a life-long, chronic illness.  


“Many people with hepatitis C have no symptoms and live with the disease for decades without feeling sick, all while liver damage may be taking place without their knowledge,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “This is why it is critical to get tested if you are in a high risk category.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone born between 1945-1965 get a blood test for hepatitis C. People born during these years are five times more likely to be infected and account for more than three out of every four Americans living with hepatitis C.  The CDC estimates that nationally, more than 3 million people are impacted by hepatitis C.  

An online assessment tool to determine risk factors for hepatitis is available on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/.

Hepatitis B is a highly infectious virus that can cause acute or chronic liver disease.  The virus is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. If left untreated, up to 25 percent of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Treatment can help reduce or prevent liver damage. There is a safe and effective vaccine available to help prevent hepatitis B infection.  

Hepatitis B may be passed from mother to baby during birth when the mother doesn't know she is infected.  In other cases, the virus is spread to the baby during close contact with an infected family member.

"There is no reason for any child to become infected with hepatitis B," said Deputy Health Commissioner and pediatrician Dr. Arturo Brito said. “Every pregnant woman should be tested for hepatitis B during their first prenatal visit, and every newborn should be vaccinated against hepatitis B before leaving the hospital."

For more information about how mothers can protect babies from hepatitis B, please visit https://nj.gov/health/cd/hepatitisb/documents/protectbaby_hepb_vaccine.pdf or http://www.hepbnj.org/.

Hepatitis A virus can cause mild to severe illness, but it does not lead to chronic infections.  It is spread mainly though eating or drinking contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person.  Hepatitis A can occur anywhere, but most commonly occurs in countries where there is a lack of safe water and poor sanitation.  There is a safe and effective vaccine available to help prevent hepatitis A. The vaccine is recommended for all children at age one. Adults should get vaccinated if they are at risk to becoming infected with hepatitis A.  To determine if you are at risk, visit https://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/faq/hepatitis_a_faq.pdf.

The NJ Viral Hepatitis Resource Guide includes locations where people can get low-cost vaccinations, available here https://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/hepatitis_resource_guide.pdf.

For more information on World Hepatitis Day, visit http://worldhepatitisday.org/ or http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/WorldHepDay.htm.

For more information on hepatitis A, B and C, including who should get tested and/or vaccinated, visit:

Hepatitis A: https://nj.gov/health/cd/hepatitisa/index.shtml
Hepatitis B: https://nj.gov/health/cd/hepatitisb_perinatal/index.shtml
Hepatitis C: https://nj.gov/health/cd/hepatitisc/index.shtml

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at twitter.com/NJDeptofHealth and on Facebook at facebook.com/NJDeptofHealth.

Last Reviewed: 7/28/2016