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 new IOM study finds that these diseases are not widely recognized as serious public health problems, and as a result, that viral hepatitis prevention, control, and surveillance programs have inadequate resources. The report concludes that the current approach to the prevention and control of chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C is not working. As a remedy, the IOM recommends increased knowledge and awareness about chronic viral hepatitis among health care providers, social service providers, and the public; improved surveillance for hepatitis B and hepatitis C; and better integration of viral hepatitis services.
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