Raise awareness this month on hepatitis

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day.

Grateful patient Kevin Cook with his smiling caregivers



World Hepatitis Day takes place every year on July 28. It is one of only four disease-specific awareness days endorsed by the World Health Organization. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, caused by a virus. There are five main hepatitis viruses: types A, B, C, D and E. Of these five, hepatitis B and C are life-threatening, infectious diseases that can cause serious liver damage and cancer, resulting in 1.3 million deaths every year.

 

In the United States alone, nearly 5 million people are estimated to be infected with hepatitis B or C. However, 90 percent of people with hepatitis B and 80 percent of people with hepatitis C are unaware they have the disease. This creates the possibility for millions of people to develop fatal liver cancer or unknowingly spread the infection to others.

 

The hepatitis B and C viruses are commonly contracted by receiving blood transfusions; during childbirth from mother to infant; sharing razors or toothbrushes; and tattooing or body piercing done without adequately sterilized equipment. The hepatitis B virus can also be spread through having unprotected sex with an infected person.

 

If you think you could be at risk for either hepatitis B or C, it is important to get tested. If you are unsure of your status, talk to your primary care physician (PCP). The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. For the latest information on hepatitis across the globe, the World Hepatitis Alliance offers additional information on their website.