World Hepatitis Day 2018 : Finding the Missing Millions !
Viral Hepatitis is one of the most widely prevalent diseases that not many people are aware of. Every year World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28th July to raise awareness about the disease and help encourage collaborative efforts of governments, authorities, medical fraternity and the people to help eliminate this disease. This year, the theme for the World Hepatitis Day is to find the “Missing Millions” who are unaware that they’re living with the disease. Even though it takes simple tests to identify the presence of the disease and a vaccine to prevent it, more than 300 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and chronic Hepatitis C are unaware that they have contracted it. Additionally, two in every three liver cancer deaths can be attributed to hepatitis and it has the burden of claiming 1.34 million lives each year. Furthermore, 60% of liver cancer cases advance due to the late testing and treatment of hepatitis B and C.
The theme this year emphasizes the importance of timely diagnosis as 9 out of 10 people are unaware of contracting hepatitis which eventually leads to more complications. Massive screening, diagnosis, and care can help save lives. WHO Has set an elimination target of 30% for hepatitis by 2020 as Timely diagnosis and save millions of lives and improve patient prognosis.
Hepatitis is a disease of the liver which causes inflammation. Hepatitis is caused due to five types of hepatitis virus which cause distinct types of hepatitis having different modes of transmission and pathophysiology.
- Hepatitis A (HAV) – The virus is usually spread by contaminated food, water, feces, objects or close contact with infected person. It’s usually not fatal but can cause upsetting symptoms. Hepatitis A infections can be prevented by improving sanitation, food safety and getting vaccinated.
- Hepatitis B (HBV) – The Hepatitis B virus is usually spread by vertical transmission, sexual contact with infected person, body fluids and unsterile injections and equipment. It can cause both chronic and acute infections and might advance to liver cirrhosis or cancer if left undiagnosed. Vaccination can successfully prevent Hepatitis B infections.
- Hepatitis C (HCV) – The hepatitis C infection is contracted due to contact with the blood of an infected person. There is no vaccine for hepatitis c, but timely detection and diagnosis can greatly improve prognosis and prevent advancement into cirrhosis for liver cancer. Rapid testing kits are available in the market that can detect the presence of hepatitis C virus in serum.
- Hepatitis D (HDV) – This type of infection only occurs in people already suffering from Hepatitis B and vaccination against Hepatitis B can prevent the occurrence of this type of infection.
- Hepatitis E (HEV) – This type of infection is spread due to contaminated water. This infection usually clears in a few weeks and the major risk factor is contracting hepatitis E during pregnancy.
There are certain risk factors which can increase your risk of contracting acute or chronic hepatitis –
- Living in a condition where sanitation and hygiene might be compromised
- Being in a profession that puts you at risk of being in contact with contaminated blood
- Having a sexual partner infected with the disease
- Sharing needles, razors or other equipment that can have remnants of blood products
- Traveling to areas where outbreaks exist
Prevention of Hepatitis is the best way to eliminate this disease. –
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis Viruses
- Prevent vertical transmission by antenatal testing
- Maintain complete sterility during procedures that put equipment in contact with the blood such as tattooing, piercing etc.
- Proper sterilization of medical equipment
- Maintain Sanitation and general hygiene
If you have any reason to believe that you might have been exposed to the virus, it is imperative to book an appointment with your doctor and also to get tested. Simple tests such as rapid test kits are also available which provide accurate results. SD Bioline One Step HCV Hepatitis Test Kit and ASPEN HCV test kit are commonly used test kits which can detect Hepatitis C virus in serum or plasma. These test kits have high sensitivity and are able to deliver results promptly.
Hepatitis can be prevented, treated and in some cases even cured. When it comes to diseases like Hepatitis, Timely diagnosis is the best way to ensure a better prognosis.