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On the 28th July, countries from around the globe will observe World Hepatitis Day (WHD). The aim of the event is to raise awareness of the global impact of viral hepatitis and to enforce significant change in the ways we educate people of the condition.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by a variety of different causes, but most commonly by a viral infection, or as a result of unhealthy alcohol and drug consumption. If left untreated, hepatitis can lead to fatal health conditions such as liver failure, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Short-term (acute) hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, resulting in the virus being undetected by many infected individuals. However, if symptoms begin to develop they can include:
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
- Itchy skin
- Muscle and joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
Long-term (chronic) hepatitis can also go unnoticed until it causes liver failure. However, the virus is often picked up during routine blood tests.
Hepatitis A - Most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by a person infected with hepatitis A. The virus usually passes within a few months. A vaccination is recommended if you travel to Africa, Central and South America and the Far East.
Hepatitis B - Transmitted via infectious body fluids. Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person can increase your risk of contracting hepatitis B. Most adults infected with hepatitis B are able to fight off the virus within a couple of months.
Hepatitis C - The most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK. Hepatitis C is usually spread via blood-to-blood contact with an infected person. Around 1 in 4 people will fight off the infection, others will experience chronic hepatitis C if the virus is not treated.
Hepatitis D - Only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, but it is usually spread through blood-to-blood or sexual contact. It is most common in Africa, South America and the Middle East.
Hepatitis E - The most common cause of acute hepatitis in the UK. The virus has been mainly associated with the consumption of raw or undercooked pork meat or offal. The virus is generally a mild infection that does not require any treatment.
According to the WHA, 300 million people worldwide are unaware that they are living with viral hepatitis. If this trend continues, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. That’s why the theme for WHD 2019 is ‘Find the Missing Millions’.
‘Find the Missing Millions’ is a global awareness-raising and advocacy campaign aimed at improving diagnosis rates of hepatitis through screening initiatives such as online self-assessment tools. The campaign hopes to contribute towards the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) commitment to diagnose 90% of people living with viral hepatitis by 2030.
Get social - Use the hashtag #worldhepatitisday on July 28th to raise awareness of viral hepatitis. Click here to download a variety of digital posters to accompany your posts. You can also share the WHD film.
Donate - To help eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030, click here to find the WHD2019 donation page.
If you want to know more about hepatitis, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call our free, 24-hour helpline on:
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