Globally, viral hepatitis is the cause of most (78%) primary liver cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world.
Hepatitis Awareness Month is intended to increase awareness about the large but often under-recognized burden of disease and premature death associated with viral hepatitis. An estimated 4.5 million Americans have chronic Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, which together account for the major cause of chronic liver disease and liver cancer in this country.
What is Hepatitis?
“Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver and refers to a group of viral infections that affect the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When inflamed or damaged, the liver’s function can be affected. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis, B, and Hepatitis C – infections caused by three different, unrelated viruses. Hepatitis A occurs in an "acute" (time-limited) form, while Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can develop into lifelong, chronic illnesses. In the United States, many of the 4.5 million people who are chronically infected with viral hepatitis, many of whom do not know they are infected.
Care Van® is here to Help…
In 2012, our Care Van® Program provided nearly 2,000 doses of hepatitis vaccine in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas. Overall, our program has benefited thousands of children in communities throughout Texas.
Hepatitis A is more difficult to track than other forms of Hepatitis in children because the symptoms usually go unnoticed. Vaccinations are critical because it prevents a child from passing the disease on to parents/adults who typically have a harder time with the disease. Hepatitis A immunization is now required for all children in day care centers from age 25 months to 43 months and for entry into kindergarten. School-age children (kindergarten) through third grade must be vaccinated. Next year, this requirement will move up to 4th grade, and on up each year for all Texas schools. Be sure your child is up-to-date and receive the entire series of all hepatitis vaccines. In addition, vaccinations are very important for kids who may be traveling out of the country to areas with inadequate sanitation systems or to countries with a high prevalence of hepatitis. More importantly, the best way to prevent hepatitis is to receive your hepatitis vaccines on time every time; and receive boosters (updates) as recommended.
To learn more about the Care Van® Program clinic schedule, visit our In Your Neighborhood page and follow us on Twitter.
Centers for Disease Control
Texas Department of State Health Services