The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that each year 72,000 people are infected with viral hepatitis. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can progress to a “chronic” or lifelong infection, resulting in serious health problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. Most people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected and can live with the disease for decades without having symptoms or feeling sick.
With the objective of raising awareness about this hidden epidemic and to encourage on-time testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have designated May as Hepatitis Awareness Month and May 19th as national hepatitis testing day. May 2015 marks the 20th anniversary of Hepatitis Awareness Month and the 4th National Hepatitis Testing Day.
Many forms of hepatitis are preventable and can be treated if detected early. Tests conducted in clinical laboratories play a crucial role in medical decision-making. High quality lab tests can go a long way in early detection, diagnosis and treatment of potentially fatal diseases. The laboratory tests used to diagnose hepatitis viral infection include serologic assays that detect human antibodies against this virus and molecular assays that detect HCV nucleic acid. If the antibody test is reactive, an additional blood test would be needed to determine if a person is currently infected with Hepatitis C.
The most common type of HCV antibody tests are the enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA). Among the new generation infectious disease ELISA kits available today, the HCV Ab ELISA, 96 Wells and HBc IgM ELISA Screening, 96 wells from DRG International Inc. come highly recommended by clinical laboratories.
Those who want to join the movement to spread awareness about hepatitis can make use of the digital tools that CDC. Groups can host an event by registering it at http://npin.cdc.gov/htd/SubmitEvent.aspx