May is Hepatitis Awareness Month and the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) is encouraging people to get tested for the virus. SNHD’s Sexual Health Outreach and Prevention Program (SHOPP) offers no-cost hepatitis B and C screenings as part of Sexually Transmitted Infection Express Testing at two locations, year-round:

  • Main Public Health Center, 280 S. Decatur, Las Vegas, NV 89107; Monday – Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Fremont Public Health Center, 2830 E. Fremont St., Las Vegas, NV 89104; Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

There are different types of viruses that cause hepatitis. The most common are hepatitis A, B and C. Viral hepatitis is a serious public health threat that causes thousands of deaths each year, and hepatitis B and C are the leading cause of liver cancer. Viral hepatitis causes both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver disease, resulting in more than one million deaths worldwide each year. Millions of Americans have chronic viral hepatitis; most of them do not know they have it. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, but it is curable with treatment. There are safe and effective vaccines available for both hepatitis A and B.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults aged 18 years and older are be screened at least once in their lifetimes for hepatitis B and C, with every pregnancy, and periodically based on increased risk factors including incarceration, injectable drug use, a history of sexually transmitted infections or having had multiple sex partners.

Tens of thousands of new cases of viral hepatitis occur every year in the United States. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that may have no symptoms and may not be detected for many years. Chronic hepatitis infections are a leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation.

In Clark County, 29 hepatitis B (acute) cases were reported in 2023, a nearly 50% increase from the 20 cases in 2022. There were 1,402 cases of hepatitis B (chronic) in 2023, nearly double the 798 cases reported in 2022. There were 2,382 hepatitis C cases in 2023, identified through testing, down from 2,952 in 2022.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice. Symptoms of chronic viral hepatitis can take decades to develop. Untreated chronic viral hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation in the United States.

For more information and screening recommendations, visit the CDC website at What is Hepatitis C – FAQ | CDC. For more information on Hepatitis Awareness Month, visit Hepatitis Awareness Month | CDC.