An urgent need for action to fight chronic hepatitis

Up to 5.3 million Americans are infected with chronic, or "lifelong," viral hepatitis, and most of these people don't know they are infected. To help prevent the serious liver-related diseases that can occur in people living with viral hepatitis infection, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a viral hepatitis action plan for the prevention, care, and treatment of viral hepatitis. The action plan outlined specific steps to be undertaken by each HHS agency to reach prevention goals and included timelines to help ensure prompt action. Much progress has been made since the release of this report.

In 2012, CDC augmented its existing risk-based hepatitis C testing guidelines, recommending that all persons born during 1945–1965 receive one-time HCV testing. Because people born during these years have high rates of hepatitis C infection, this recommendation will help increase the numbers of infected people who know their infection status, which is the first step towards receiving needed care and treatment.

CDC revised its HCV laboratory testing algorithm to include a confirmatory test. The new recommendation will help public health professionals better estimate rates of infection and help ensure that people who test positive for hepatitis C infection know whether their infection is still capable of harming their liver. Such knowledge can help providers and patients make important care and treatment-related decisions.

As directed by CDC, the efforts of the Coalition are focused on addressing the strategic priorities identified in the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 2010 report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) 2011 Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis (and its subsequent update), and the Division of Viral Hepatitis Strategic Plan 2012-2015, which is currently being revised.

About CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis

CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) is part of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. In collaboration with domestic and global partners, DVH provides the scientific and programmatic foundation and leadership for the prevention and control of hepatitis virus infections and their manifestations.

DVH consists of the Office of the Director and three branches that work collaboratively to prevent viral hepatitis infections and associated liver disease.