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On July 28th, the world comes together to observe World Hepatitis Day, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness about viral hepatitis and the impact it has on millions of people worldwide. This day is a reminder of the urgent need to strengthen efforts in combating hepatitis, promoting prevention, enhancing care, and ensuring better access to treatment. The Lincoln Trail District Health Department is committed to supporting this cause and educating our community about the importance of hepatitis awareness and prevention.

Understanding Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by viral infections. There are five main types of hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. Each type presents different modes of transmission, health impacts, and preventive measures.

The Global Impact

Every year, 1.3 million people lose their lives to hepatitis, and new data from the World Health Organization shows the number of deaths is rising. Hepatitis is now the world’s deadliest virus after COVID-19, with over 300 million people living with it. Additionally, there are over two million new cases of hepatitis every year. Hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer, making it a critical public health concern.

The Urgency of Action

There are only six years left to meet the global goal of eliminating hepatitis by 2030, yet we are moving backward. Despite having the tools needed to eliminate hepatitis, progress is still too slow. Resources are not being mobilized, stigma and discrimination are not being addressed, and millions are being left behind. For World Hepatitis Day 2024, the World Hepatitis Alliance, along with our partners, allies, and 337 members in 102 countries, are calling for action to end this entirely preventable disease.

What is World Hepatitis Day?

World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on July 28th, bringing the world together to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, its global burden, and to influence real change. This year, we are calling on people everywhere to take action and help eliminate this entirely preventable disease.

What is Viral Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D, and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

The Public Health Problem

Every 30 seconds, someone dies from a viral hepatitis-related illness. However, with existing prevention, testing, and treatment services, every hepatitis-related death is preventable. Hepatitis can affect anyone, but it disproportionately affects people and communities most underserved by health systems.

Different Types of Viral Hepatitis

  1. Hepatitis A
    • Vaccine: Yes
    • Treatment: Yes
    • Cure: Most people make a full recovery
    • Transmission: Primarily through contaminated food and water. Associated with poor sanitation and hygiene.
    • Prevention: Improved sanitation, food safety, and vaccination.
    • Impact: Common in low- and middle-income countries. Causes mild to severe symptoms, sometimes leading to acute liver failure.
  2. Hepatitis B
    • Vaccine: Yes
    • Treatment: Yes
    • Cure: In development
    • Transmission: Contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Commonly spread from mother to child at birth.
    • Prevention: Vaccination, safe sex practices, and blood safety.
    • Impact: Chronic infection can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. Highest burden in the WHO Western Pacific and African regions.
  3. Hepatitis C
    • Vaccine: No
    • Treatment: Yes
    • Cure: Yes
    • Transmission: Bloodborne, primarily through unsafe injections and blood transfusions.
    • Prevention: Safe healthcare practices and harm reduction services.
    • Impact: High burden in the Eastern Mediterranean and European regions. Chronic infection can lead to severe liver disease.
  4. Hepatitis D
    • Vaccine: No (but HBV vaccination prevents HDV infection)
    • Treatment: Yes
    • Cure: No
    • Transmission: Requires HBV for replication, transmitted similarly to HBV.
    • Prevention: HBV vaccination and safe practices.
    • Impact: Most severe form of hepatitis, rapidly progresses to liver cancer and death.
  5. Hepatitis E
    • Vaccine: No
    • Treatment: Yes
    • Cure: Most people make a full recovery
    • Transmission: Contaminated water.
    • Prevention: Improved water quality and sanitation.
    • Impact: Common in areas with poor sanitation, can cause severe disease in pregnant women.

Join Us on World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is a crucial opportunity to drive progress towards eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat. By taking proactive steps and spreading awareness, we can make a significant impact on the health and lives of those affected by hepatitis.

Join us on July 28th to honor World Hepatitis Day. Together, we can work towards a future where hepatitis is no longer a silent killer but a defeated enemy. For more information, resources, and support, visit our website or contact the Lincoln Trail District Health Department.

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