We’ve only got one life, and we’ve only got one liver. Hepatitis can devastate both. The liver silently performs over 500 vital functions every single day to keep us alive. That’s why prioritizing liver health – and knowing our hepatitis status – is so important.
Every year on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day is celebrated in honour of Dr Baruch Samuel Blumberg’s birthday. Dr Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and developed the hepatitis B vaccine two years later in 1969 and awarded Nobel prize in Medicine in 1976 for this discovery.
Under the theme, “One Life, One Liver,” this year’s World Hepatitis Day will highlight the importance of the liver for a healthy life, and the need to scale up viral hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment to optimize liver health, prevent liver disease and achieve the 2030 hepatitis elimination goals.
We commemorate World Hepatitis Day by raising awareness about viral hepatitis. With almost 300 million individuals living with hepatitis B worldwide, it is so important to bring awareness to this preventable and treatable disease.
The four key ways to keep healthy liver and Healthy Life are
Knowing the Hepatitis Status and seeking Treatment
Reducing the alcohol intake- Say NO to Alcohol
Healthy weight and Daily Exercise
Healthy Diet- Low Fat/ Low Carb/ High Protein/ Green leafy vegetables
Managing and Treating HTN and DM
The benefit of a Healthy Liver include
o Living longer.
o Protecting your loved ones against hepatitis.
o Protecting other vital organs, including the heart, brain and kidneys, that rely on the liver to function
And that’s why liver health is fundamental to human health.
What makes hepatitis a global health problem
• But viral hepatitis infection is also silent, with symptoms only appearing once the disease is advanced.
• Although there are many different types of hepatitis viruses (A to E), hepatitis B and C are the most concerning and cause nearly 8000 new infections every day, which are mostly going undetected.
• 3,000 people die from hepatitis every day. That’s one hepatitis death every thirty seconds. However, with the existing prevention, testing and treatment services that are available every hepatitis related death is preventable.
• Over one million hepatitis-related deaths every single year – and one new chronic infection every ten seconds.
• Over 8,000 new hepatitis B and C infections occur each day. That’s over 5 infections every minute.
• If the current trajectory continues, viral hepatitis will kill more people annually than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined by 2040.
Globally, there’s a huge number of undiagnosed and untreated people living with hepatitis. This must change.
• Most people discover they have hepatitis B or C after many years of silent infection, and only when they develop serious liver disease like liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
• Even after diagnosis, the level of treatment and care for people living with hepatitis is astonishingly poor.
• Only 10% of people with chronic hepatitis B are diagnosed. Only 22% of those receive treatment – that’s just 2% of the total global health burden.
• Only 21% of people with hepatitis C are diagnosed. 62% of those diagnosed receive treatment to cure them – just 13% of the total global health burden.
So many hepatitis deaths could be prevented. Because there are vaccines and effective treatments for hepatitis B and even a cure for hepatitis C – you CAN protect yourself and your loved ones.
Speak to your local healthcare provider to find out how to protect yourself from hepatitis.
What is hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver , most commonly caused by a viral infections. The other causes are alcohol, drugs, obesity etc. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as type A,B,C,D,E.
If untreated, the viral hepatitis can lead to advanced liver disease like Liver cirrhosis, Liver Cancer.
Hepatitis B Virus Infection
Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It is a major global health problem. It can cause chronic infection and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer.
A safe and effective vaccine that offers 98% to 100% protection against hepatitis B is available. Preventing hepatitis B infection averts the development of complications including chronic disease and liver cancer.
In highly endemic areas, hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child at birth (perinatal transmission) or through horizontal transmission (exposure to infected blood), especially from an infected child to an uninfected child during the first 5 years of life. The development of chronic infection is common in infants infected from their mothers or before the age of 5 years.
Hepatitis B is also spread by needlestick injury, tattooing, piercing and exposure to infected blood and body fluids, such as saliva and menstrual, vaginal and seminal fluids. Transmission of the virus may also occur through the reuse of contaminated needles and syringes or sharp objects either in health care settings, in the community or among persons who inject drugs. Sexual transmission is more prevalent in unvaccinated persons with multiple sexual partners.
Hepatitis B infection acquired in adulthood leads to chronic hepatitis in less than 5% of cases, whereas infection in infancy and early childhood leads to chronic hepatitis in about 95% of cases. This is the basis for strengthening and prioritizing infant and childhood vaccination.
The incubation period of the hepatitis B virus ranges from 30 to 180 days. The virus may be detected within 30 to 60 days after infection and can persist and develop into chronic hepatitis B, especially when transmitted in infancy or childhood.
Most people do not experience any symptoms when newly infected. However, some people have acute illness with symptoms that last several weeks, including yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. People with acute hepatitis can develop acute liver failure, which can lead to death. Among the long-term complications of HBV infections, a subset of persons develops advanced liver diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which cause high morbidity and mortality.
There is no specific treatment for acute hepatitis B. WHO recommends the use of oral treatments (tenofovir or entecavir) as the most potent drugs to suppress hepatitis B virus. Most people who start hepatitis B treatment must continue it for life.
WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours, followed by 2 or 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine at least 4 weeks apart to complete the vaccination series. Protection lasts at least 20 years and is probably lifelong. WHO does not recommend booster vaccinations for persons who have completed the 3-dose vaccination schedule.
Hepatitis C Virus Infection
Hepatitis c is a viral infection that affects liver. It is the leading cause of Liver Cirrhosis , Liver cancer leading to Liver transplant.
Globally estimated 58 million people have HCV infection with 1.5 million new infection every year.
Like Hepatitis B infection, the hepatitis C also spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids.
Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine.
Acute Hepatitis C infections are usually asymptomatic and resolve spontaneously in around 30% (15-45%) of cases. The remaining 70% (55-85%) person will develop chronic HCV infection. Of those chronic HCV infections, the risk of cirrhosis is from 15 to 30% within 20 years.
Hepatitis C infection can be diagnosed with blood test like HCV antibody and HCV RNA level.
WHO recommends all adults should be test for HCV infection once.
There are highly effective oral medicines are available for HCV treatments which can cure more than 95% persons with HCV infections.
There is no effective vaccine against HCV. The best way to prevent disease is to avoid contact with virus.
Hepatitis A and E
They usually causes acute viral hepatitis which resolve spontaneously with time. Rarely, they can cause Acute liver failure leading to death or need for urgent Liver transplant. They are transmitted through feco-oral route with contaminated food or water. Hepatitis E infection can cause serous problem in pregnancy. There are effective vaccine available for Hepatitis A virus.