May 2021: Hepatitis Awareness Month

WHEREAS, over four million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, and many do not know it, as people often are asymptotic. 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 primarily affect the liver. Infection can be acute (lasting six months or less) or chronic (lasting more than six months); and,


WHEREAS, hepatitis B and C make up 65 percent of factors contributing to liver cancer incidence in the United States. If left untreated, severe health complications can occur, including liver damage, liver failure, and death; and,


WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends one-time hepatitis C testing among adults 18 years and older, during every pregnancy among pregnant persons, and periodic hepatitis C testing among persons with continued risk factors, anyone with recognized exposures and conditions, and anyone who requests it; and,


WHEREAS, injection drug use is a primary route of hepatitis C transmission through the sharing of equipment used to prepare or inject drugs. Syringe services programs (SSPs) prevent the spread of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV through the provision of sterile supplies, access to HIV and hepatitis C testing, linkage to care, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations, and referral to substance use treatment. There are 65 SSPs across the state of Michigan to provide these comprehensive services; and,


WHEREAS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can both be transmitted at birth from mother to baby. There is a vaccine that can prevent the transmission of the hepatitis B virus, and effective hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals can cure more than 90% of persons living with hepatitis with once-a-day oral therapy for eight to 12 weeks; and,


WHEREAS, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched the We Treat Hep C Initiative to highlight current steps to eliminate hepatitis C and increase access to curative treatment by bringing down the cost of hepatitis C medication for the Medicaid and Michigan Department of Corrections populations; and,


WHEREAS, hepatitis C elimination is achievable with direct-acting antivirals that are effective at virtually curing individuals of their hepatitis C infection; and,


WHEREAS, this month, we join with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and harm reduction services as well as the importance of vaccination, testing, and treatment to eliminate viral hepatitis;


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim May 2021 as Hepatitis Awareness Month in Michigan.