World Hepatitis Day – 400 Million People Is 400 Million Too Many

Today is being observed as World Hepatitis Day. The day has been observed since 2010, when the World Health Organization (WHO) made World Hepatitis Day one of only four official disease-specific world health days, to be celebrated each year on July 28. Millions of people across the world observe the day to help raise awareness about viral hepatitis, and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs and government action. With better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis, it is possible to eliminate this disease and save 4,000 lives a day.

Globally, there are 400 million people living with hepatitis B or C, and every year, 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis. However, these deaths are preventable.

Here are some quick facts:

  1. Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There are five different hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Find out more about the different types here.
  2. Viral hepatitis affects the liver, causing it to become inflamed and impairing its proper function.  In fact, it causes 80 per cent of liver cancer deaths (600,000 deaths a year).
  3. Hepatitis A (HAV) is the most prevalent type of hepatitis worldwide.
  4. Hepatitis can be transmitted by:
    • sharing toothbrushes and razors
    • sharing drug using equipment
    • unscreened blood transfusions
    • unsafe injections
    • unprotected sex
    • mother to child
  5. More than 40,000 Jamaicans could be living with the hepatitis viruses without being aware. The most common forms of the virus are hepatitis A, which is usually spread through food, and hepatitis B and C, which can be transmitted through blood.

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