Hepatitis is a disease caused by an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis.
There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral (not ingested) contact with infected body fluids. Common modes of transmission for these viruses include receipt of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment and for hepatitis B transmission from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact.
Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Source: World Health Organization
This webpage will focus on the two most common viral types, types B and C.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV. Source: World Health Organization
Refer to the New Jersey Department of Health Hepatitis B Fact Sheet
Communities at Risk for Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B and infants and young children:
According to the Healthy New Jersey 2020, currently, 47.3% of infants age 0-3 days receive the birth dose of Hepatitis B vaccine. The goal is to increase the percentage of infants, age 0-3 days who receive the Hepatitis B birth dose to 75% by 2020. Hepatitis B vaccine is available for all age groups to prevent HBV infection. All children should get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and should have completed the vaccine series by 6 through 18 months of age. Source: New Jersey State Health Assessment Data, NJDOH
Resource: "Start Protecting Your Baby at Birth with Hepatitis B Vaccine" (NJDOH) [PDF]
Hepatitis B and Foreign-Born residents:
Worldwide, the most common risk factor for liver cancer is chronic (long-term) infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). These infections lead to cirrhosis of the liver (see above) and are responsible for making liver cancer the most common cancer in many parts of the world.
The Maplewood Health Department encourages everyone to get tested and vaccinated to be protected from Hepatitis B. Left untreated, nearly 1 in 4 people living with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems, even liver cancer. In fact, Hepatitis B-related liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian Americans. Getting tested for Hepatitis B can help many people access lifesaving treatments that can prevent serious liver damage. Hepatitis B is serious, but treatments are available.
In the United States, infection with hepatitis C is the more common cause of HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma/ liver cancer), while in Asia and developing countries, hepatitis B is more common. People infected with both viruses have a high risk of developing chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The risk is even higher if they are heavy drinkers (at least 6 standard drinks a day). Source: American Cancer Society
According to the CDC, 1 in 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is common worldwide, especially in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the US, Hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While AAPIs make up less than 5% of the U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with Hepatitis B.
[PDF] Hepatitis B Information for Asian and Pacific Islanders
2 in 3 Asian Americans with Hepatitis B don't know they are infected
People can live with Hepatitis B for decades without having any symptoms or feeling sick. Hepatitis B is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from someone who has the virus, and many people living with Hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children. Testing is the only way to know if someone has Hepatitis B.
Who should get tested for Hepatitis B?
- Anyone born in Asia or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
- Anyone born in the United States, who was not vaccinated at birth, and has at least one parent born in East or Southeast Asia (except Japan) or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
Hepatitis B testing identifies people living with Hepatitis B so they can get medical care to help prevent serious liver damage. Talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C: The Silent Killer for the Baby Boomer Generation
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV. Source: World Health Organization
The Maplewood Health Department wants to encourage those born between 1945-1965, otherwise known as the 'baby boomer generation' to get tested for hepatitis C. Studies indicate that those born during that time are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C has been called a silent epidemic because most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected.
If you do test positive, and have chronic hepatitis C there are treatment options available that could prevent the progression of liver damage, liver failure, cirrhosis or liver cancer and may be able to eliminate the virus from the body. Contact your health care provider to get tested for hepatitis C. If you need a referral to a healthcare provider, contact the Maplewood Health Department at (973) 762-8120 x 4200 or X4300. See attachment for CDC's new campaign to encourage those born between 1945-1965 to get tested for Hepatitis C. For more information, go to:
Also refer to the New Jersey Department of Health Hepatitis C Fact Sheet
New Jersey Department of Health Viral Hepatitis Resource Guide
?This guide is designed to assist New Jersey residents and healthcare providers identify hepatitis
There are three sections to this guide: vaccination and screening sites, treatment resources and
education & advocacy resources. Each section offers information by county. Please note that
some of the vaccination and screening sites have limitations of who may use their services. You
are encouraged to call a testing/screening site to confirm that this information is still current.
New Jersey Department of Health Hepatitis B website
New Jersey Department of Health Hepatitis C website
HepBUnited is a joint website between Saint Barnabas Medical Center and the New Jersey Department of Health . Website provides news, education and locations for Free Hepatitis B screenings.
LiverBWell is a program through the Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Center for Asian Health. Free screenings and education/ counseling are offered, and interpreters are available. Call for an appointment: (973) 322-6888. Hours: 9 Am- 5 PM, 101 Old Short Hills Rd., Suite 408, West Orange, NJ 07052
- Contact the Maplewood Health Department for a lab requisition form.
World Hepatitis Alliance is a patient-led and patient-driven not-for-profit organization that represents patients with hepatitis and aims to increase awareness of viral hepatitis. This page includes updates on the current work of the World Hepatitis Alliance, resources for patients, fact sheets, info-graphics, strategies and tool-kits.
Hepatitis and Liver Cancer: A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and C - This 2010 report, for which Dr. Su Wang was a reviewer, extensively details the landscape of hepatitis B and C prevention and control in the United States. It includes an evaluation of current prevention and control activities, and makes recommendations based on those findings to improve the incidence of viral hepatitis going forward.
HepBUnited.org offers free resources to help educate communities about hepatitis B and increase screening for the disease. This page includes webinars/hangouts/trainings, campaign materials, and other resources.
Source: Region 2 Public Health Training Center
HCV Advocate is a resource for persons and communities dealing with hepatitis C. There are resources for newly diagnosed, treatment discussion pages, support groups, fact sheets and clinical trial information.
American Cancer Society and Liver Cancer Risk Factors
CDC Know Hepatitis B
CDC Viral Hepatitis Risk Assessment