In case you missed it, World Hepatitis Day is today, July 28th. You've probably heard of hepatitis, but you may not know what it is exactly, how you can catch it, or how to prevent it. This blog can teach you all you need to know.
We've gathered together some resources from World Health Organization (WHO) to give some insight into why World Hepatitis Day is so important.
What is Hepatitis?
Scientists have identified five different variations of the Hepatitis virus. While B and C are the most common, it is important to have knowledge of all of them!
- Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Certain sex practices can also spread HAV. Infections are in many cases mild, with most people making a full recovery and remaining immune from further HAV infections. However, HAV infections can also be severe and life threatening. Most people in areas of the world with poor sanitation have been infected with this virus. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HAV.
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is transmitted through exposure to infective blood, semen, and other body fluids. HBV can be transmitted from infected mothers to infants at the time of birth or from family member to infant in early childhood. Transmission may also occur through transfusions of HBV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients. Safe and effective vaccines are available to prevent HBV.
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.
- Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with HBV. The dual infection of HDV and HBV can result in a more serious disease and worse outcome. Hepatitis B vaccines provide protection from HDV infection.
- Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is mostly transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. HEV is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing parts of the world and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of disease in developed countries. Safe and effective vaccines to prevent HEV infection have been developed but are not widely available.
Why is World Hepatitis Day Important?
What Can I Do About World Hepatitis Day?
- Get tested! Go to your nearest testing center and have them test you for Hepatitis B and C. Apicha Community Health Center provides testing for hepatitis.
- Get vaccinated! The Hepatitis B vaccination was probably provided to you as a baby or toddler when you received your initial vaccinations. However, you probably haven't received vaccinations regarding the other three forms of the virus, so read the description of each one above and determine if you may be at risk of contracting any of the other forms.
For example, if you are traveling to a country with poor sanitation practices, you will want to get vaccinated for Hep A.
- Get the treatment you need! As you can see from the infogrpahic above, Hepatitis C can be completely cured within 3-6 months in 90% of people who receive the correct treatment. So make sure that you sign up to receive primary care from a healthcare facility that has the means to provide this treatment for you.
- Share to increase awareness! Whether you have been infected with the Hepatitis virus or not, share all the knowledge you have about this infection with your friends. Encourage them to get tested and to get their vaccines if they haven't yet. One more vaccinated person equals one less person infected with the hepatitis virus, and one step closer to bringing an end to this virus.
You can get tested or vaccinated for the Hepatitis virus at Apicha Community Health Center! Request an appointment to learn more!