In 2004, the World Health Organisation (WHO), declared the 28th of July to be the World Hepatitis Day, in order to motivate both governments and citizens in the fight against the disease.
Last Update : 27/07/2017
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a viral liver disease. There are 5 types of it, A, B, C, D, and E and they are caused by the viruses HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, and HEV accordingly, with type B and type C being the deadliest. According to the data from WHO, there are 1,45 million deaths caused by viral hepatitis, every year. The disease is considered to be a “silent killer” because it is asymptomatic during the early stages.
Different Types of Hepatitis
Hepatitis A can cause mild to severe illness and the risk of such an infection is associated with poor sanitation and hygiene and lack of safe water. However, it is rarely fatal because it does not cause chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis B is much more dangerous. It is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person and it can cause both acute and chronic disease. It is estimated that almost 5% of infected adults will develop chronic infection and 20-30% of them will develop cirrhosis and/or liver cancer.
Much like the B type, Hepatitis C can cause both acute and chronic infection. It is mainly transmitted through unsafe injection practices so sharing or reusing needles can greatly increase the risk of spreading the disease. This is why drug addicts are in danger of being infected. Although there is an ongoing research, there is still no vaccine.
Hepatitis D is transmitted through blood and other body fluids. HDV requires HBV for its replication so infection cannot occur in the absence of the latter. For that reason, the use of a vaccine against HVB is the safest way to prevent HDV infection.
Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through contaminated water. It can cause fever, anorexia, nausea, vomiting in an early phase and hepatomegaly in a later phase of the disease. It is usually self-limiting so hospitalization is rarely needed.
July 28th – World Hepatitis Day
This year’s theme is “Eliminate Hepatitis”. In compliance with the decisions of the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, 194 governments embraced the Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis designed by WHO, that aims to eliminate hepatitis B and C until 2030. Thus, the first global movement to eradicate the disease started, with the name NOhep.
Part of this year’s campaign is the #ShowYourFace campaign to encourage people to engage more actively and help the fight against the disease gain even more momentum.
“The national response towards hepatitis elimination is gaining momentum. However, at best one in ten people who are living with hepatitis know they are infected and can access treatment. This is unacceptable,” said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO’s Director of the HIV Department and Global Hepatitis Programme.
“For hepatitis elimination to become a reality, countries need to accelerate their efforts and increase investments in life-saving care. There is simply no reason why many millions of people still have not been tested for hepatitis and cannot access the treatment for which they are in dire need.”
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