World Hepatitis Day 2023: Uniting to Eliminate Hepatitis Worldwide

Aishwarya Pillai

, News

World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E — and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. About 2.3 billion people of the world are infected with one or more of the hepatitis viruses. Viral hepatitis results in around 1.4 million deaths each year, HBV and HCV are responsible for about 90% of these fatalities, whilst the remaining 10% of fatalities are caused by other hepatitis viruses.


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World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public and highlight the need for a greater global response as outlined in the WHO’s Global hepatitis report of 2017. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2023 is One liver, one life.


The significance of 28 July as the chosen date stems from the birth anniversary of the distinguished Nobel-prize winning scientist, Dr. Baruch Blumberg. It was Dr. Blumberg who made the groundbreaking discovery of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and subsequently pioneered the development of a diagnostic test and vaccine for this virus.


Your liver silently performs over 500 vital functions every single day to keep you alive. But viral hepatitis infection is also silent, with symptoms only appearing once the disease progresses. Although there are many different types of hepatitis viruses (A to E), hepatitis B and C are the most concerning and cause nearly 8000 new infections daily, mostly going undetected.

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, which occurs as a response to irritation or injury, leading to swelling and potential pain.The condition can be caused by various factors, including viral infections. Viral hepatitis can be either acute (lasting less than six months) or chronic (lasting more than six months) and can spread from person to person. Some forms of viral hepatitis can also be transmitted through sexual contact.


The hepatitis viruses are categorized as A, B, C, D, and E, with each having its distinct characteristics and modes of transmission.


Why is hepatitis a serious health risk?


  • Destroy liver tissue.
  • Spread easily from person to person.
  • Weaken the body’s immune system.
  • Cause the liver to fail.
  • Cause liver cancer.
  • Cause death (in rare cases).


How can you get hepatitis?


Hepatitis A:


  • Sexual contact with an affected person
  • Eating food or drinking water carrying the virus through bits of fecal matter from an infected person


Hepatitis B:


  • Having sex with an infected person.
  • Sharing dirty needles.
  • Being in direct contact with infected blood.
  • Getting needle stick injuries.
  • Being transferred from a pregnant person to a fetus.
  • Being in contact with an infected person’s body fluids.


Hepatitis C:


  • Sharing dirty needles.
  • Being in direct contact with infected blood.
  • Getting needle stick injuries.
  • Having sex with an infected person (less common).


Hepatitis D:


  • Being passed from pregnant person to child during childbirth.
  • Having contact with infected body fluids or blood.


You can only get hepatitis D if you have hepatitis B.


Hepatitis E:


  • Eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the virus (the fecal-oral route).
  • Under-cooked foods like pork, venison, or shellfish.


How to prevent Hepatitis?


There are many ways you can reduce your chances of getting hepatitis:


  • Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.


  • Use a condom during sex.


  • Don’t share needles to take drugs.


  • Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing with soap and water.


  • Don’t use an infected person’s personal items.


  • Take precautions when getting any tattoos or body piercings.


  • Take precaution when traveling to areas of the world with poor sanitation. (Make sure to get your vaccines.)


  • Drink bottled water when traveling.


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