Wednesday, July 28, is World Hepatitis Day. The annual campaign raises global awareness of viral hepatitis. Every 30 seconds, someone dies of hepatitis-related illness, which is why this year’s theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait.”
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. When untreated, it can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant and death. Hepatitis can be caused by several factors, including toxins, too much alcohol, autoimmune diseases, fat in the liver and viruses.
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There are five main types of hepatitis viruses. The most common are hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), followed by hep D (which infects only people who have hep B) and hep E.
According to the World Health Organization, July 28 was chosen as World Hepatitis Day because it’s the birthday of Baruch Blumberg, the Nobel Prize–winning scientist who discovered the hep B virus and then developed a test and a vaccine for it.
Happy #WorldHepatitisDay from the WHA team!— World Hepatitis Alliance (@Hep_Alliance) July 28, 2021
Today we stand together with our 300 members in 100 countries to tell the world that Hepatitis Can’t Wait. Join us in the call to accelerate hepatitis elimination efforts, today and every day!#WHDRelay pic.twitter.com/VDHFUnTl54
A vaccine also exists for hep A, hep B is treatable, and hep C is curable. Yet few people get vaccinated, tested and treated, making it a challenge to eliminate viral hepatitis.
It is possible to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem, according to a statement from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) released on World Hepatitis Day, although the organization adds that doing so will require investing more resources and removing barriers that continue to stand in the way of expanding access to treatment. (For more details, see this Hep article.)
The #WHDRelay is still in the United States where we are joined by Dr. John Ward from @GlobalHep as he introduces the new country profiles available at https://t.co/0lNgPQHRrb #WorldHepatitisDay pic.twitter.com/20NCrPtFSA— World Hepatitis Alliance (@Hep_Alliance) July 28, 2021
The World Hepatitis Alliance, which spearheads the awareness day, highlights the following facts about viral hepatitis:
- Hepatitis B and C kill more people annually than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB.
- Hepatitis B and C are responsible for two out of three liver cancer deaths.
- 290 million people are unaware that they are living with viral hepatitis.
- Birthdose vaccine costs as little as 20 cents yet isn’t used in 48% of countries worldwide.
- Eliminating hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030 would prevent approximately 36 million infections and save 10 million lives.
The #Covid_19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on #hepatitis elimination efforts.— World Hepatitis Alliance (@Hep_Alliance) July 28, 2021
It’s time to act. Hepatitis Can’t Wait.
Read our comment in the @LancetGastroHep for #WorldHepatitisDay #NOhep https://t.co/JxoX5YsGRw https://t.co/rxnnGAnFZ5 pic.twitter.com/pkHbD8k1KG
In the United States, viral hepatitis is common among people living with HIV. For example, approximately 25 percent of Americans who have HIV also live with hep C.
On WorldHepatitisDay.org, you can find downloadable images, GIFs and social media graphics in over 10 languages. Visit HepMag.com’s Basics pages to learn more about viral hepatitis in the United States, including prevention and treatment options. The introduction to the Basics states:
As with so many diseases, we’ve come a long way in understanding viral hepatitis, notably two chronic and serious forms: hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Several drugs are now on the market to manage hepatitis B, and a growing number of agents are available to cure hepatitis C in more than 90% of people who are treated. At the same time, we’re continually learning how to use approved medications much more easily and effectively.
Whether you’re concerned about possible exposure to any of these viruses; want to learn more about how to avoid infection; were recently diagnosed with HAV, HBV or HCV; or have been living with chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C, we’re here to help you take charge of your health.
Click below for more information on each type of hepatitis.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)
- Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
Click below for more information about other liver-related diseases: