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WHO Is Promoting World Hepatitis Day on 28 July 2019 to Create Awareness about This Life-Threatening Disease

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) is observed globally on the 28th of July every year. The key objective of this program is to raise awareness of about this life-threatening liver ailment that affects over 325 million people globally.

WHD brings global populace together under a single theme and unveils the dangers of viral hepatitis. It also shares plans on how to influence real change.

Viral hepatitis which includes hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, affects millions of people worldwide. Affected individuals may suffer both short-term and long-term consequences of the condition which is highly infectious. It is the cause of over a million deaths each year. A matter of grave concern is that deaths from hepatitis are increasing with 1.34 million people losing their lives. Another equally scary piece of data is that around 300 million people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they are infected.

World Hepatitis Day is aimed at spreading information about this disease that has become a major global burden.

The five hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E, are distinctive in their modes of transmission. They can affect different populations and can cause different health outcomes.

Causes:

  • Hepatitis A spreads by contact with food, drinks, or objects contaminated by feces from an infected person. It can also spread through sexual intercourse with someone who is infected.
  • Hepatitis B is often spread during birth from an infected mother to her baby. Infection can also occur through contact with blood and other body fluids through injection drug use, unsterile medical equipment, and sexual contact.
  • Hepatitis C is spread through the blood of an infected person. It can spread through blood transfusion, injections, and other medical procedures. It can also transmit from an infected mother to the child. Most people with Hepatitis C develop a chronic infection.
  • Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood. This type of hepatitis only occurs in those already infected with the hepatitis B virus.
  • Hepatitis E spreads through contaminated drinking water and can be cured within four to six weeks without any specific treatment.

Symptoms:

The symptoms associated with hepatitis are common to all types:

The usual symptoms that doctors look for are fatigue, nausea, pain in the abdomen, and low appetite, pain in the joints, soreness in the muscles, itchy skin, darkening of urine, and lightening of the stool color. They also suffer from jaundice.

Treatment

Some types of hepatitis can heal on its own with simple care and without medical intervention. However, in some individuals, it can lead to scarring of the liver and cirrhosis.

There is no specific treatment for Types A and B. You will be advised to take adequate rest and stay away from alcoholic drinks, tobacco, and drugs during the recovery process. For those with Hepatitis B, some antiviral medications may be prescribed or antiviral suppressive therapies may be recommended.

For Hepatitis C, antivirals and combination therapies are used by medical professionals. These treatments prevent viral replication and stop the reproduction process of the virus. Most patients respond positively to the treatment.

WHO is urging all countries to promote ‘Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis’ – the theme of the World Hepatitis Day, 2019, Campaign.

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