What is World Hepatitis Day?
World Hepatitis Day is observed every year on July 28 to raise awareness and spread information about viral hepatitis, a group of infectious diseases that affect the liver. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2023 is ‘We’re not waiting’. The theme reflects the urgency and determination of the global hepatitis community to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), viral hepatitis causes over 1.3 million deaths every year, and one new chronic infection every 15 seconds. There are five main types of hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis B and C are the most concerning, as they can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How to prevent and treat hepatitis?
The good news is that many hepatitis deaths can be prevented. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B, effective treatments for hepatitis B, and even a cure for hepatitis C. However, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, which is a major challenge for its elimination. You can protect yourself and your loved ones by speaking to your local healthcare provider to find out how to prevent and treat hepatitis.
Some of the preventive measures include:
- Getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B
- Practicing safe sex and avoiding sharing needles or other personal items that may have blood on them
- Washing your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing diapers
- Drinking safe water and eating hygienic food
- Avoiding alcohol and other substances that can harm your liver
Some of the treatment options include:
- Antiviral drugs for chronic hepatitis B and C
- Interferon injections for chronic hepatitis D
- Supportive care for acute hepatitis A and E
- Liver transplant for end-stage liver disease
Why is World Hepatitis Day important?
World Hepatitis Day is important because it is a day for the world’s hepatitis community to unite and make their voices heard. It is a day to celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against hepatitis, and to highlight the current challenges and gaps that need to be addressed.
Some of the goals of World Hepatitis Day are:
- To increase public awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis
- To encourage people to get tested and treated for hepatitis
- To advocate for political commitment and funding for hepatitis prevention and care
- To support the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis B
- To promote the integration of hepatitis services into universal health coverage
How can you get involved in World Hepatitis Day?
There are many ways you can get involved in World Hepatitis Day, whether you are an individual, an organization, a health professional or a policy maker. Here are some examples:
- Join the global campaign by using the hashtag #HepatitisCantWait on social media
- Share your story or support someone who is living with hepatitis
- Organize or participate in an event or activity to raise awareness or funds for hepatitis
- Sign the petition or write a letter to your government to demand action on hepatitis
- Learn more about hepatitis and spread the word to your family, friends and community