World Hepatitis Day
Awareness and Prevention
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The common cause is a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is damaged or inflamed, its function can be affected. The other causes of hepatitis include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of drugs, toxins, medications, and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue.
World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day is commemorated each year on 28 July to bring the world together to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes a range of health problems, including liver cancer. One of just four disease-specific global awareness days officially recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), World Hepatitis Day unites the public, patient organisations and governments to boost the profile of hepatitis. In 2021 the theme is 'Hepatitis Can’t Wait'.
Types of Hepatitis
There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of death, with 1.3 million lives lost each year. Hepatitis A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are most likely to become ongoing and chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
Most people living with hepatitis are unaware of their infection. Chronic viral hepatitis is the most common risk factor for liver cancer. By increasing awareness, many deaths can be prevented. What are some points to recognise in order to raise awareness?
Identifying At-Risk Patients
Hepatitis can be found more commonly in some parts than others,
but everyone is susceptible to it all the same. From infants to the elderly across all races and backgrounds, everyone is at-risk. The symptoms of viral hepatitis include jaundice, loss of appetite, dark urine, abdominal pain, joint pain, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Identifying who is at risk and encouraging screening is critical in reducing risk because not everyone shows symptoms.
Providing Educational Resources
Hepatitis is known as a “silent epidemic” because millions of people are living with it unknowingly. 325 million people are living with viral hepatitis B and C. Hence, it is vital to encourage hepatitis screenings and vaccinations. There are several ways to spread awareness: through social media, posters, pamphlets, talking to patients, and encouraging people to do the same and explaining why screenings and vaccinations are necessary and effective.
Treatment at the right time can prevent the person from liver cirrhosis or scarring, which may lead to liver cancer. The following points can be effective in the prevention of the disease.
There is no vaccination for hepatitis apart from hepatitis A and B. Prevention of infection among new-borns can be tackled with vaccination against hepatitis B at birth, followed by at least 2 additional doses.
Practising good hygiene is a crucial way to avoid contracting hepatitis A and E. When travelling to a developing country, avoid unfiltered water, raw and undercooked food.
Do not share a toothbrush, razors, and drug needles.
Practice safe sex by using condoms and dental dams.
The use of vaccines is a significant key to preventing hepatitis. Vaccinations are available to prevent the development of hepatitis A and B. Experts are currently developing vaccines against hepatitis C.
While World Hepatitis Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness, it is also essential to promote screenings and vaccinations all year round. We must empower people to understand prevention is possible and encourage positive action to prevent hepatitis.
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