PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
July 27, 2020

Judith M. Persichilli

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

New Jersey Department of Health Joins in World Hepatitis Day July 28

This Year’s Theme: Hepatitis-free future

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.

“It is critical that all healthcare providers talk with patients about their risks for hepatitis and steps they can take to protect themselves,” Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said. “Hepatitis A and B can be prevented with safe and effective vaccination.”

Last year, there were 610 hepatitis A cases, 75 acute hepatitis B cases and 1186 newly identified chronic hepatitis B cases reported in the state.

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.

“Individuals with Hepatitis C may be unaware they have the disease and can transmit it for years without knowing it,” Commissioner Persichilli said. “This is why getting tested is a critical step.”

In 2019, there were 103 acute hepatitis C cases, 6,394 chronic hepatitis C cases and 11 perinatal hepatitis C cases reported.

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.

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:

Last Reviewed: 7/27/2020