May 2019: Hepatitis Awareness Month

WHEREAS, over four million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis and many do not know it. People often do not show symptoms. Without a blood test, they may never know they have the hepatitis B or C virus; and,

WHEREAS, hepatitis B and C are the most common blood-borne infections in the United States that cause inflammation of the liver. Infection can be acute (lasting six months or less) or chronic (lasting more than six months); and,

WHEREAS, if the hepatitis B or C viruses are left untreated, severe health complications can occur, including liver damage, liver failure, and death; and,

WHEREAS, together, hepatitis B and C makes up 65 percent of factors contributing to liver cancer incidence in the United States; and,

WHEREAS, injection drug use is a primary risk factor for hepatitis C acquisition among those aged 18-29 years old. From 2005 to 2017, there was a 476 percent increase of chronic hepatitis C cases among young adults aged 18-29 years; and,

WHEREAS, hepatitis C can be transmitted during birth from a mother to child. From 2007 to 2016, the number of women of childbearing age (15-44 years) reported with hepatitis C in Michigan were 817 in 2007 and 2,114 in 2016; and,

WHEREAS, currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. There are, however, new treatment regimens that show an estimated 90 percent of persons infected with hepatitis C can be cured with only 8-12 weeks of oral therapy; and,

WHEREAS, hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted sexually or at birth from mother to child. There is a vaccine that can prevent the transmission of the hepatitis B virus; and,

WHEREAS, hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection and has infected many Michigan adults in the last few years.  It can cause a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. There is an effective vaccine to protect against the hepatitis A virus; and,

WHEREAS, this month, we join with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to raise the people of Michigan’s awareness of viral hepatitis and the importance of testing and treatment to prevent the spread of viral hepatitis;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim May 2019 as Hepatitis Awareness Month in Michigan.