Health Blog

World Hepatitis Day

by Frankie Wythe on 26 June 2018 10:30

 

World hepatitis day’s campaign is to

‘find the missing millions’.

 

Worldwide, 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis  unaware. On world hepatitis day, we’re raising awareness and asking people to join in the quest to find the ‘missing millions’. This is a 3-year global awareness raising and advocacy campaign aimed at tackling the barriers to  diagnosing hepatitis. All contributing towards progression WHO’s elimination target of a 30% diagnosis rate by 2020.

  

What is viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis B and C cause 1.3 million deaths per year– more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. Together, these viruses cause 2/3 liver cancer deaths across the world.

 

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These 5 types are of the greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

 

Chronic hepatitis B and C are life threatening infectious diseases and cause serious liver damage, cancer and premature death. More than 300 million people are infected with the hepatitis B or C virus.  Globally, 90% of those with hepatitis B and 80% with hepatitis C are unaware they have it, resulting in the possibility of developing fatal liver disease or liver cancer at some point in their lives, or unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

 

With the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis is achievable. But greater awareness and understanding is needed, as well as cheaper diagnostics and treatment.

 

Hepatitis B

Transmission: through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. E.g. from mother to child during the birth, sharing toothbrushes, unprotected sex or injecting drugs.

Prevention: vaccination is very effective in preventing infection. 

Treatment:

although there is currently no cure for hepatitis B, drugs such as alpha interferon and antivirals are available. These drugs  slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in clearance. Most importantly, they reduce the risk of complications that hepatitis B can cause, such as liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

 Hepatitis C

 Transmission:  blood to blood contact. Most commonly from unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilisation of medical equipment and unscreened blood or blood products. It can also be transmitted through sexual practices where blood is involved.

Prevention: currently there is no vaccination for hepatitis C. To reduce the  risk of exposure, avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes or nail scissors with an infected person. Also avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treatment: treatment with medications can cure hepatitis C infections.

 

What does the campaign do?

 Recognising that there are many reasons why the global     diagnosis rate is so low, the World Hepatitis Alliance commissioned a global survey in 2018 to understand the main barriers to hepatitis B and C diagnosis globally.

 

· Lack of public knowledge of the disease

· Lack of knowledge of the disease amongst healthcare professionals

· Lack of easily accessible testing

· Stigma and discrimination

· The out of pocket costs to the patients

 

Become a supporter

Join in the quest to find the missing millions and support the campaign by going to :

 

http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/world-hepatitis-day/supporters

 

Author
Frankie Wythe

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