World Hepatitis Day, held annually on July 28th, is a day of awareness focused solely on bringing to light, the effects and impacts that hepatitis produces globally. World Hepatitis Day focuses on fixing many of the preventable causes that facilitate the spread of hepatitis. Points of emphasis include: increasing the number of individuals that receive vaccinations, properly instructing medical staff on safety measures for giving injections and drawing or transfusing blood, informing local populations of causes and effects, and instructing individuals on safe sexual practices.
Why should you care?
Approximately one third of the World’s population has, at some point, been infected by hepatitis. In fact, in all of its various forms, hepatitis affects 2,151,400,000 individuals. Many individuals infected with hepatitis remain undiagnosed and unaware of their conditions, unknowingly risking other individuals. If you are sexually active, it is very important to go to your local doctor’s office and get screened for hepatitis and other sexual transmitted infections and diseases to protect yourself and others.
Hepatitis A, affects approximately 1.4 million individuals, mainly affecting the liver of infected individuals. Of all the forms of hepatitis, the A strain is of the least concern in terms of life threatening effects. Hepatitis A is generally contracted through one of three methods: consuming contaminated food, ingesting contaminated water, and direct contact with an infected individual. A vaccination for hepatitis A does exist, and in general, improving sanitary conditions in living quarters and food facilities, can reduce much of the threat posed by hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B is by far the most impactful of all the hepatitis strains. Hepatitis B has impacted approximately two billion humans. Hepatitis B can be a lethal strain of hepatitis and claims close to 686,000 lives every year to direct, or related complications, of the infection. Similar to the A strain, hepatitis B infections target the body’s liver and can lead to various forms of cancer and cirrhosis. Hepatitis B is generally contracted through direct contact between infected and uninfected individuals, through the exchange of blood or bodily fluids. While hepatitis B possess a more significant threat, like hepatitis A, an effective vaccination against the strain does exist.
Hepatitis C is responsible for approximately 150 million chronically infected individuals. While hepatitis C is not as widespread as its B strain counterpart, it is the most lethal, as it is responsible for taking nearly 700,000 lives each year. Similar to how the other strains of hepatitis react, hepatitis C targets the liver of individuals and commonly results in various forms of liver cancer and cirrhosis. Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus, and is contracted through the exchange of blood between infected individuals and uninfected persons. While there currently exists no vaccination against hepatitis C, antiviral medications can be extremely effective in curing infected persons.
World Hepatitis Day 2016
The 2016 World Hepatitis Day’s official theme for the year is “Elimination”. This year’s awareness day is especially significant, as it marks the first time that various state governments participating in the World Health Organization, have joined together to sign an agreement to formulate a program aimed at reducing the global threat of hepatitis. The strategy sets 2030 as the completion year, in which viral hepatitis will no longer exist as a public health threat.
How can you help?
World Hepatitis Day, officially ran by the World Hepatitis Alliance, is running a campaign this year called “NOHEP”, focused on increasing awareness and engaging individuals in movements to help their cause in reducing the health threat of hepatitis. You can practice safe sex, good hygiene, and avoidance of other activities that involve contact with unsanitary needles or objects that can contain blood or bodily fluids. You should also inform others about the dangers and preventable methods to avoid the contraction of hepatitis. Additionally, if you wish to learn more directly from the sources, you can visit the World Hepatitis Day official website.