Up to 5.3 million people—2 percent of the U.S. population—are living with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C. These diseases are more common than HIV/AIDS in the U.S. Yet, because hepatitis B and hepatitis C often present no symptoms, most people who have them are unaware until they develop liver cancer or liver disease many years later. A January 2011 Institute of Medicine study, entitled Hepatitis and Liver Cancer: A National Strategy for Prevention and Control of and states:
“An estimated 1.2–2 million people in the United States are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and 2.7–3.9 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Lack of awareness about the prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis in the United States and about the proper methods and target populations for screening and medical management of chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C 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.”
The Scripps National Hepatitis B & C Training Program and Treatment Update will contribute towards increasing the number of health care practitioners educated on the prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis, as well as those properly preventing, diagnosing, treating, and/or referring patients with chronic illness; therefore contributing towards prevention of new cases and improved management of already infected patients.