PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 28, 2021

Judith M. Persichilli

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Recognizes World Hepatitis Day

This Year’s Theme: Hepatitis Can’t Wait

In recognition of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is joining the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis.

Hepatitis refers to a group of contagious liver diseases — A, B and C — each caused by a different virus. Hepatitis A typically occurs in an "acute" or time-limited form, while hepatitis B and C can develop into a lifelong, chronic illness.

“Individuals with hepatitis B and C might transmit the disease without even knowing they have it,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “This is why it is crucial for healthcare providers to talk with patients about their risks for hepatitis and steps they can take to protect themselves, including vaccination.”

In 2020, there were 316 hepatitis A cases reported in the state. There were 44 acute hepatitis B cases and 264 newly identified chronic hepatitis B cases reported in the state. There were also 121 acute hepatitis C cases, 5,409 chronic hepatitis C cases and 8 perinatal hepatitis C cases reported.

Hepatitis A virus can cause mild to severe illness, but it does not lead to chronic infections. It is usually spread through contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person.

Hepatitis B infection is spread through blood and body fluids. People can be infected when they have sexual contact or share needles with an infected person. Hepatitis B can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. Hepatitis B can cause acute or chronic liver disease.

Pregnant woman should be tested for hepatitis B during their first prenatal visit, and every newborn should be vaccinated against hepatitis B before leaving the hospital.

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with infected blood through sharing needles, syringes or other equipment to inject drugs, needle stick injuries in healthcare settings, being born to a mother with hepatitis C, or sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes with an infected person. Less commonly, people can be infected through sexual contact with an infected person.

While there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, there are steps individuals can take to prevent transmission. This includes never sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, and using condoms consistently and correctly.

Vaccination, testing and treatment are available at Federally Qualified Health Centers, Harm Reduction Centers, Planned Parenthood sites and at local health department in the state. A directory where these services can be found is available in the Viral Hepatitis Resource Guide.

Harm Reduction Centers (HRC) are community-based programs that provide a safe and welcoming space for people who use drugs to access sterile syringes, needles, injection equipment and life-saving drug naloxone, along with education on safer use, overdose prevention and safe disposal of used equipment. Harm Reduction is a proven model to significantly prevent and reduce the transmission of these diseases. As most people become infected with Hepatitis C virus and other bloodborne pathogens within their first year of using injection drugs, each of the seven HRCs collaborates with a variety of health care facilities and programs through linkages to provide supportive services, such as substance abuse treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends universal screening for hepatitis C, this means that everyone get tested, regardless of risk factors. They also recommend that pregnant women are tested for hepatitis C during each pregnancy.

World Hepatitis Day has evolved into a global campaign and initiative to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.

For more information on hepatitis A, B and C, including who should get tested and/or vaccinated, visit:

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and LinkedIn /company/njdeptofhealth.

Last Reviewed: 7/28/2021