Millions of people in the U.S. have chronic viral hepatitis, most without knowing it, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups have designated May as Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19 as Hepatitis Testing Day.
“Hepatitis is a silent killer. When you get infected, you often don’t have severe symptoms that make you go to the doctor,” said Dr. John Ward, director of the Coalition for Global Hepatitis Elimination at the Task Force for Global Health in Decatur, Georgia.
“Hepatitis B and C can become chronic infections and cause liver damage over time, which can lead to liver cancer,” Ward, who is also a senior scientist at the CDC, said in a phone interview. “It’s important for people to be tested so infections can be caught early before they become a problem.”