World Hepatitis Day 2020: Know your ABCs

BY JULIE MOON, Health education coordinator

Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver, often caused by a virus.

Many live with the infection for decades without feeling sick.

However, liver damage is ongoing, even without symptoms.

With the progression of liver disease, this vital organ loses the ability to sustain normal functions such as filtering the blood and fighting infection.

According to the World Health Alliance, viral hepatitis is now the seventh most important cause of death worldwide. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes hepatitis C to the leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. 

World Hepatitis Day is recognized annually promoting global awareness, encouraging testing and empowering community leaders to take a stand in the fight against viral hepatitis.

There are approximately 290 million people worldwide living with viral hepatitis, yet they have no idea. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer.

Viral hepatitis kills 1.4 million people every year. We can change that.

On July 28, in recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the Clark County Health Department, in collaboration with the University of Kentucky has dedicated services to “Finding the Missing Millions.”

We all agree that “knowing your status” is the starting point in decreasing the prevalence of viral hepatitis.

CCHD supports the harm reduction initiative and, through our partnership with UK, devotes one public health professional to conducting rapid Hepatitis C testing in the Clark County community.

This service is free, private and confidential. The goal of the initiative is to improve health care through education, prevention and treatment.

Hepatitis A is an acute infection spread via fecal/oral transmission causing mild to severe symptoms that may lead to hospitalization or even death.

Hepatitis A is found in the stool and blood of an infected person and is easily spread through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis A is preventable by vaccine.

Hepatitis B, normally acute, is spread via blood or sexual contact causing mild to severe symptoms.

Hepatitis B is a preventable infection that cannot be cured but it can be managed.

Hepatitis C is an acute infection spread via blood transmission. It cannot be prevented by vaccines and usually leads to chronic infection because of the lack of visible symptoms. Hepatitis C can be cured. As more infected persons living with Hepatitis C are cured, there will be a decline in mortality around the world.

If you are at high risk for exposure to hepatitis, please contact the Clark County Health Department for further guidance. Together we can eliminate Hepatitis. 

For vaccination details, contact the Clark County Health Department at 859-744-4482 and request to speak to the nursing staff. 

To schedule an appointment for rapid hepatitis C testing and to discuss referrals for positives, call 859-744-4482 and ask to speak to the health education coordinator.