Mind and Body: World Hepatitis Day is Sunday

Published 9:57 am Thursday, July 25, 2019

By Jennifer Burchett

Clark County Health Department

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day with the theme “Find the Missing Millions.”

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The World Hepatitis Alliance estimates that there are 300 million people who are unaware that they are infected with hepatitis B or C. Because of these numbers, hepatitis has been called one of the biggest global health threats of our time.

More than 1.3 million deaths worldwide are attributed to viral hepatitis — as many as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Hepatitis B and C are also said to cause 80 percent of liver cancers world-wide.

World Hepatitis Day was developed to raise global awareness of the disease, the importance of testing, and the good news that cures for hepatitis C and vaccines for hepatitis B exist.

Diagnosis is still a problem, and without diagnosis, treatment is delayed or never started. If an individual does not know their hepatitis status there is the real possibility a person could develop liver cancer or transmit the infection to others.

Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis B and C are transmitted through sexual contact, health care needle stick injuries, the sharing of needles and equipment by IV drug users and from mother to baby during pregnancy.

World Hepatitis Day is one of just four disease-specific global awareness days officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to unite patient organizations, medical professionals, governments, industry leaders, and the general public in education efforts. The goal is to raise the global profile of viral hepatitis.

Every year on July 28, agencies ramp up vaccination efforts for hepatitis B and encourage everyone to have a test for hepatitis C, particularly if they have never had one. Hepatitis C is curable, but must be diagnosed first to find the treatment that is right for an individual.

Individuals born between the early to mid 1940s through the early to mid 1960s (the Baby Boomers) are highly encouraged to be tested at least once because of lax screening of blood products used during surgeries and other treatments in past decades.

Use this year’s World Hepatitis Day to think about your hepatitis A and B vaccination status, and find out if you have ever had a test for hepatitis C.  Be proactive for your health, promote the need for testing and vaccination and help “Find the Missing Millions.”

Contact us at Clark County Health Department for questions regarding Hepatitis vaccinations or testing at 859-744-4482.

Information taken from www.cdc.gov/hepatitis and www.worldhepatitisalliance.org