PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 28, 2023

Judith M. Persichilli

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

New Jersey Health Department Recognizes World Hepatitis Day (July 28)

TRENTON – With the goal of raising awareness on hepatitis and testing, treatment, and vaccination efforts, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in recognizing July 28 as World Hepatitis Day.

World Hepatitis Day is a global campaign and initiative that aims to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 through vaccination, testing, and treating people living with viral hepatitis. This year’s theme is “We're not waiting.”

To commemorate World Hepatitis Day, two free testing events will be held on July 28 in collaboration with the New Jersey Community Research Initiative (NJCRI):

  • NJCRI, 393 Central Ave., Newark, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • ARS of Mays Landing, 1409 Cantillon Blvd., Mays Landing, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“Together, we can eliminate hepatitis,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Individuals can learn more about their risk from a health care provider. People with hepatitis B and C may not know they are infected, so testing is critical to protecting yourself. There are safe and effective vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B, and there are medications to cure hepatitis C. Most insurance plans cover hepatitis testing, vaccination, and treatment.”

To find other free or low cost publicly funded hepatitis services, including vaccination, testing and treatment, visit NJDOH’s hepatitis dashboard.

Hepatitis, which affects millions worldwide, is a contagious liver disease caused by different viruses, the most prevalent being hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis A, which is vaccine-preventable, can be an acute (short-term) infection that can last for a few weeks or months. While hepatitis B – which is also vaccine-preventable – and C can develop into chronic (lifelong) illness for those infected, treatment for both is available.

In 2022, cases reported to the state included:

  • 42 cases of acute hepatitis A
  • 2,229 cases of chronic hepatitis B
  • 50 cases of acute hepatitis B
  • 4,674 chronic hepatitis C cases
  • 68 acute hepatitis C, and
  • 5 perinatal hepatitis C cases

New Jersey saw fewer cases of hepatitis A in 2022 because the national outbreak ended in 2021. NJDOH also saw a decrease in newly identified hepatitis C cases, likely due to an increase in treatment. Hepatitis C treatment has been called a game-changer in the effort to eliminate hepatitis. Treatment is oral medication with minimal side effects taken over eight to 12 weeks. NJDOH continues to collaborate with providers and partners across the state to promote hepatitis C testing and reduce barriers to treatment, especially among priority populations such as people who inject drugs, people experiencing homelessness or who have unstable housing, and pregnant people.

The CDC recommends universal hepatitis C screening for everyone ages 18 years and older at least once in their lifetime and all pregnant individuals during each pregnancy. Testing for hepatitis C is important because it is curable in more than 95% of cases, according to the CDC.

Hepatitis A, which is very contagious and can spread through contact with objects, food or drinks contaminated by an infected person, can cause mild to severe infection but does not lead to chronic or life-long infection. Vaccination for hepatitis A starts with children ages 12 through 23 months, but a vaccine can be given to anyone who requests it if not already vaccinated.  

Hepatitis B is spread through an infected person’s blood and body fluids and can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby at birth. Hepatitis B can cause acute or chronic liver disease, and is a leading cause of liver cancer.

Hepatitis C spreads through contact with infected blood through sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs. Chronic hepatitis C can result in serious or potentially life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Harm reduction practices, such as using clean injecting equipment (i.e. needles, syringes), can prevent transmission of hepatitis C. Harm reduction center expansion was recently enabled in New Jersey. Harm reduction centers provide clean injecting equipment and other services for people who use opioids and have been shown to reduce the disease transmission among people who use drugs.

For more information on hepatitis A, B and C, visit NJDOH’s hepatitis dashboard.

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

Last Reviewed: 7/28/2023