Did you know that over 290 million people are currently living with viral hepatitis and are completely unaware?
Did you know there are 1.34 million deaths per year connected to hepatitis?
Hepatitis infections are also directly linked to two in every three liver cancer deaths, and viral Hepatitis is one of the biggest global health threats of our time.
The World Hepatitis Day organization works to inform and educate the public on the risks of Hepatitis each and every day. But specifically, on July 28th each year, they move with extra action, fundraising and education to boast World Hepatitis Day! Here you can learn how our major health organizations work to control hepatitis and the differences between the hepatitis strains.
Viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, and affect any human causing both acute or short-term illness, and chronic, long-term liver disease. In 2019, the WHO stated that there were approximately 260 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and over 70 million living with chronic hepatitis C worldwide. This disease causes more than one million deaths per year. Deaths from tuberculosis and HIV are on the decline, while hepatitis is on a steady rise.
How do World Organizations help fight hepatitis globally?
The CDC and WHO work to help control the spread of hepatitis diseases by collaborating with each other, and many state recognized groups. To decrease the burden of hepatitis B afflicting countries with high rates of infection, they have begun providing financial and technical assistance to those who need it. Some of their listed helpful programs include:
- Implementing innovative interventions to increase hepatitis B vaccine coverage at birth
- Documenting the burden of hepatitis B in children
- Supporting regions and countries in verifying the achievement of hepatitis B control and elimination goals
To further help to decrease these high rates and numbers, all WHO organizations also developed policies and procedures to help with viral surveillance, testing, care and treatment. Those countries that the CDC helps the most with this disease are China, Georgia and Pakistan (CDC). This work helps to provide the best care and practices, which then overflow into the care and plan of the United States.
The Different Types of Hepatitis around the World
There are five different types of hepatitis viruses and those are A, B, C, D and E. Each are different and can be spread in different ways, affecting humans and populations differently as well.
- Hepatitis A: Worldwide, hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. In the United States, hepatitis A is most spread from close personal contact with someone infected, either through having sex, caring for someone who is ill, or using drugs with others. Hepatitis A does not cause a chronic, lifelong infection and is rarely fatal, but it can cause serious symptoms. This vaccination is the best way to prevent hepatitis A. However, good hand hygiene, improved sanitation, and increased food safety can also prevent hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: Globally, the hepatitis B virus is most spread from an infected mother to her baby at birth and among un-vaccinated children. People can also become infected from contact with blood and other body fluids through injection drug use, un-sterile medical equipment, and sexual contact. Hepatitis B is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia but is also high in the Amazon region of South America, the southern parts of eastern and central Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, chronic illness. If infected at birth or during early childhood, people are more likely to develop a chronic infection, which can lead to liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer. The Hep B vaccine is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis B. WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, followed by 2 to 3 additional shots. In many parts of the world, widespread infant vaccination programs have led to dramatic declines of new hepatitis B cases.
- Hepatitis C: The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. People can get infected through sharing any equipment used to prepare and inject drugs and through unsafe medical injections and other medical procedures. Hepatitis C can also spread, although rarely, from an infected mother to her child at birth. Hepatitis C can cause both acute and chronic infections, but most people who get infected develop a chronic infection. A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. With new treatments, over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be cured within 2 to 3 months, reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. The first step for people living with hepatitis C to benefit from treatments is to get tested and linked to care. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, but research in this area is ongoing.
- Hepatitis D: The hepatitis D virus is spread through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. People who are not already infected with hepatitis B can prevent hepatitis D by getting vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E: The hepatitis E virus is spread mainly through contaminated drinking water. However, pregnant women infected with hepatitis E are at considerable risk of mortality from this infection. Hepatitis E is rare in the United States, but is found worldwide, with the highest number of infections in East and South Asia. Improved water quality and sanitation can help prevent new cases of hepatitis E. (This information was pulled from the CDC website, and can be viewed there at the links below.)
To view specially made videos from the World Hepatitis Day organization, visit this link. There are videos in a multitude of languages, some even with subtitles, to ensure all can benefit from this important information.
Reclaiming Intimacy ( www.reclaimingintimacy.org )
World Hepatitis Day ( https://www.worldhepatitisday.org/ )
(Video Link: https://www.worldhepatitisday.org/film/ )
CDC ( www.cdc.gov )