world hepatitis day

#4000Voices – World Hepatitis Day

July 28th marks the 6th world Hepatitis awareness day. This relatively new disease-specific world health day was created by the World Health Organisation in the year 2010. Each year, on July 28th, millions of people across the world take part in World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of the disease and how we can treat and prevent the many different types of hepatitis.

This year in particular is a significant year for viral hepatitis. At the World Health Assembly held in May, the WHO Member States adopted the first ever Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis. The aim is to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, and 2016 is the first time national governments have signed up and committed to this cause.

 

What is Hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis is caused by a virus and results in inflammation of the liver. There are five different types of hepatitis- A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis A

How do you catch it?

Mainly spread through consuming food or water that has been contaminated by the faeces of another infected person. However, it can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that has come from contaminated sewage water.

How can you prevent it?

There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. If you receive this within a few weeks of exposure, it can give short term immunity. Also, practice good hygiene and avoid drinking potentially unsafe water.

How do you Treat it?

As this is only an acute form of hepatitis, your body is often able to clear itself of infection within a few weeks.

Hepatitis B

How do you catch it?

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. It can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth.

How can you prevent it?

As with Hepatitis A, there is a vaccination that can prevent infection. If you are not vaccinated, then use condoms and avoid sharing needles, toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors. Also avoid getting tattoos or piercings from unlicensed facilities.

How do you Treat it?

There are a range of antiviral drugs which slows the growth and can occasionally result in clearing the disease. In the case of mothers and children, children should be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth to prevent infections that could lead to chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C

How do you catch it?

This is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases, it can be spread through childbirth and certain sexual practices.

How can you prevent it?

There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. To reduce the risk of becoming infected, avoid sharing needles, toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors, and once again only get tattoos and piercings at licensed establishments.

How do you Treat it?

The treatment for chronic hepatitis C aims to eradicate it completely, and uses a mixture of potent antiviral drugs such as interferon and ribavirin.

Hepatitis D

How do you catch it?

Hepatitis D is only spread through contact with infected blood.

How can you prevent it?

This type of hepatitis is only found in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. To reduce exposure to this further form of hepatitis, avoid sharing needles, toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors and get tattoos and piercings from licensed practitioners.

How do you Treat it?

There is no effective antiviral therapy available for hepatitis D, however, conditions may improve with a-interferon – a biological response modifier, usually administered by injection, which can inhibit cell reproduction during infection.

Hepatitis E

How do you catch it?

As with hepatitis A, it is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person.

How can you prevent it?

There is a vaccine for the prevention of hepatitis E, but it is not widely available. However, you can reduce your risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation.

How do you Treat it?

There is no treatment for hepatitis E, it should clear itself.

 

What Is The Impact Of Hepatitis?

Currently, there are more than 400 million people living with hepatitis B or C, and 1.4 million people die each year as a result of viral hepatitis. The devastating truth is that all of these deaths could have been prevented with a better awareness and understanding of hepatitis.

If we did manage to create more of an awareness, then 4000 lives a day could be saved. Therefore, the campaign calls for 4000 people to stand up and provide a voice for each life lost this World Hepatitis Day.

 

How Can I Get Involved?

To be one of the 4000 voices of awareness, simply tweet using the hashtag #4000voices. To become even more involved in fighting for the prevention of this devastating disease, use these online toolkits to campaign and run your own events.

If we all campaign and come together, then we could reach the goal of eliminating the public threat of hepatitis by 2030! All we need to do is stand up and be heard together, to ensure that everyone is aware of what hepatitis is, how you can catch it and how to prevent it.

If you are worried about the risk of catching hepatitis, find out more information about hepatitis on the NHS choices website.