The global epidemic of hepatitis B and C is a serious public health problem. Hepatitis B and C are the major causes of chronic liver disease and liver cancer in the world. In the next 10 years, 150,000 people in the United States will die from liver disease or liver cancer associated with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Today, between 800,000 and 1.4 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis B and between 2.7 and 3.9 million have chronic hepatitis C. People most at risk for hepatitis B and C often are the least likely to have access to medical services. Reducing the rates of illness and death associated with these diseases will require greater awareness and knowledge among health care workers, improved identification of at-risk people, and improved access to medical care.
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease. Although federal public health officials recommend that all newborns, children, and at-risk adults receive the vaccine, about 46,000 new acute cases of the HBV infection emerge each year, including 1,000 in infants who acquire the infection during birth from their HBV-positive mothers. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, which is transmitted by direct exposure to infectious blood.
Hepatitis and Liver Cancer identifies missed opportunities related to the prevention and control of HBV and HCV infections. The book presents ways to reduce the numbers of new HBV and HCV infections and the morbidity and mortality related to chronic viral hepatitis. It identifies priorities for research, policy, and action geared toward federal, state, and local public health officials, stakeholder, and advocacy groups and professional organizations.