Knowledge and Awareness

The committee found that there is relatively poor awareness about hepatitis B and hepatitis C among health-care providers, social-service providers (such as staff of drug-treatment facilities and immigrant-services centers), and the public, especially important, among members of specific at-risk populations. Lack of awareness about the prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis in the United States and the target populations and appropriate methodology for screening, testing, and medical management of chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C probably contributes to continuing transmission; missing of opportunities for prevention, including vaccination; missing of opportunities for early diagnosis and medical care; and poor health outcomes in infected people.

To improve knowledge and awareness among health-care providers and social-service providers, the committee offers the following recommendation:

Recommendation 3-1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should work with key stakeholders (other federal agencies, state and local governments, professional organizations, health-care organizations, and educational institutions) to develop hepatitis B and hepatitis C educational programs for health-care and social-service providers.

The educational programs should include at least the following components:

  • Information about the prevalence and incidence of acute and chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C both in the general US population and in at-risk populations, particularly foreign-born populations in the case of hepatitis B, and IDUs and incarcerated populations in the case of hepatitis C.

  • Guidance on screening for risk factors associated with hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

  • Information about hepatitis B and hepatitis C prevention, hepatitis B immunization, and medical monitoring of chronically infected patients.

  • Information about prevention of HBV and HCV transmission in hospital and nonhospital health-care settings.

  • Information about discrimination and stigma associated with hepatitis B and hepatitis C and guidance on reducing them.

  • Information about health disparities related to hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

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