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World Hepatitis Day: What You Should Know

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Health writer | Editor | Public Health Researcher

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by Viruses, Bacteria, Alcohol, Drugs and other toxins.

world hepatitis day
Image Credit: Istock

“Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the missing millions.” – worldhepatitisday.org

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by Viruses, Bacteria, Alcohol, Drugs, and other toxins. Hepatitis is a liver disease and since it affects a major organ in the body, it is imperative to avoid the causative risk factors by all means. It is worth noting that the liver is responsible for:

  •  combating infections in the body by detoxifying the blood of particles and infections.
  • controlling levels of fats, amino acids, and glucose in the blood.
  • processing digested food from the intestines among other functions.

Of all types of Hepatitis, the most severe is Hepatitis B and C.Hepatitis B is caused by an infection with the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) which results in either:

  • an acute illness that usually resolves itself quickly without causing long-term liver damage
  • or a chronic illness (CHB) like the hardening of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, etc that lasts for more than 6 months and in some cases ultimately death.

In Nigeria, approximately 17-34 million people are infected with the virus and it also accounts for 200,000 annual deaths in the country. It can be transmitted via sexual contact, contaminated sharp objects, mother to infant, child to child, and unscreened blood transfusion. In Africa, most chronic cases of Hepatitis B infection are mainly transmitted from mother to child during birth or from child to child.

World Hepatitis Day: What You Should Know
Image Credit::Istock

What you must know about this disease is that it is:

  • 100 times more infectious than HIV.
  • 10 times more infectious than Hepatitis C. 
  • Survives outside the body for at least 7 days.

– Ribeiro, et al. Microbes Infect. 2002;4:829-835.

On the other hand, Hepatitis C can be transmitted through the ways Hepatitis B is contracted including the sharing of personal items like toothbrushes, unsterilized ear and body piercing, circumcision, and tattooing.

Key Point

  • 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware.
  • This is a silent killer that can lead to liver cancer and liver failure.
  • it is preventable, treatable, and curable.
  • Get tested and vaccinated on World Hepatitis Day, July 28th. Together, we can end viral hepatitis.

The tricky side to this disease is that the early stages are asymptomatic. This means that it shows no symptoms which is why it is usually referred to as “the silent killer” as the liver is often damaged before the patient is even aware that he/she is infected. 

Good news:

Even though the disease is difficult to be noticed by the patient at the initial stage, it can be detected by health experts. Diagnosis requires a simple blood test! Do you also know that, unlike some world-deadly diseases without a cure, there is actually a vaccine that makes you immune to Hepatitis? Now that you know, ensure to get screened and know your status. If negative, endeavor to get vaccinated! If you are tested positive, it is not the end of the world. Effective treatment is available.

Come July 28th, World Hepatitis Day, we will once again be presented with an opportunity to join the world to raise awareness of the global burden of viral Hepatitis and lend our voices to the challenges of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Spread the word in your little and big corners. A Hepatitis-free world is achievable. It all begins with you and I.

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Ginika Oluchi Okeke

Ginika is the Lead health writer at KompleteCare. She also doubles as an editor and proofreader for everything that concerns content. When she's not writing content for KompleteCare, you might find her copy-editing works for authors before publication.

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