World Hepatitis Day – July 28 – Why Hepatitis can’t wait

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day and with 1.4 million deaths per year from Hep B and C, it’s important to understand more about this virus and to take action.
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At Healthwatch Slough we are supporting the World Hepatitis Day campaign which is calling for action against this particular condition which affects more than 300 million people worldwide.  

What is Hepatitis?  

Hepatitis is generally caused by a virus and results in the liver becoming inflamed. There are five main hepatitis viruses - types A, B, C, D and E. These five types cause a huge burden of illness and death, as well as potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. 

According to the World Hepatitis Alliance, chronic hepatitis B and C are life-threatening infectious diseases that cause serious liver damage, cancer, and premature death. More than 300 million people are living with the hepatitis B virus or the hepatitis C virus. 

Hepatitis B and C are silent epidemics, hitting children and marginalized populations the hardest. 

Here are five things most people don’t know about Hepatitis, from the WHA:  

  1. Hepatitis B and C kill more people annually than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB 

  1. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 2 out 3 liver cancer deaths 

  1. 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware  

  1. Birthdose vaccine costs as low as 20 cents yet isn’t used in 48% of countries worldwide  

  1. Eliminating hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030 would prevent approximately 36 million infections and save 10 million lives 

The theme for this World Hepatitis Day is that with a person dying every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness – even in the current COVID-19 crisis – there is no time to wait to act on viral hepatitis. The WHA says:  

  • People living with viral hepatitis unaware can’t wait for testing 

  • People living with hepatitis can’t wait for life saving treatments 

  • Expectant mothers can’t wait for hepatitis screening and treatment 

  • Newborn babies can’t wait for birth dose vaccination 

  • People affected by hepatitis can’t wait to end stigma and discrimination 

  • Community organisations can’t wait for greater investment 

  • Decision makers can’t wait and must act now to make hepatitis elimination a reality through political will and funding. 

You can find out more and get involved on their website: https://www.worldhepatitisday.org/get-involved/ 

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