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World Hepatitis Day: Combating the Silent Epidemic

Post written by BFH Staff Writer on July 25, 2023
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Sarah’s Hepatitis Story

Meet Sarah, a 27-year-old hepatitis advocate and influencer. She has dedicated three years of her life to raising awareness about the condition and helping the community fight the disease.

On July 28 every year, on World Hepatitis Day, she gets busy with several events and webinars dedicated to this cause, so close to her heart. Here’s her inspiring story.

Sarah had always been a vivacious and adventurous person, living life to the fullest. Little did she know that a silent threat was lurking within her body. One day, during a routine check-up, she received a shocking diagnosis: hepatitis. She was further devastated when the doctor broke the news that there is no apparent treatment for hepatitis. Nevertheless, she was a fighter and embraced her condition before fighting back.

Thanks to the early diagnosis, Sarah’s doctors promptly started her on a comprehensive treatment plan to reverse the liver damage and relieve her existing symptoms. Medication became her lifeline, working diligently to eradicate the virus from her system. Although the journey was arduous, Sarah remained resilient, with an unprecedented courage to fight back. She held onto hope, knowing that medical advancements and her own determination could help her overcome this formidable challenge.

But medication alone wasn’t enough. Sarah understood the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle to support her recovery. She reevaluated her choices and made significant changes, such as cutting down on junk foods and binge drinking. Instead, she gravitated towards a balanced diet, focusing on foods that nourished her liver and boosted her immune system. Regular exercise became an integral part of her daily routine, providing both physical and mental strength to face the hurdles ahead.

World Hepatitis Day, July 28, became a catalyst for change in Sarah’s life. On asking what importance this day hold in her life, Sarah says, “World Hepatitis Day on July 28th became a turning point in my life. I realized the power of awareness and advocacy during this event. I educated myself about the disease and connected with others who were going through similar battles. This strengthened my resolve to fight against hepatitis and inspired me to become an advocate for this cause. It showed me that collective action and raising awareness are crucial in making a positive change.”

If you resonate with Sarah’s story, this article provides more information on hepatitis and ways you can actively promote awareness of the illness.

Remembering World Hepatitis Day

Every year on July 28th, people around the globe observe World Hepatitis Day. This significant event serves as a reminder of the urgency to combat hepatitis, raise awareness, and mobilize efforts towards its prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other stakeholders, World Hepatitis Day aims to bring together individuals, communities, and governments to eliminate hepatitis worldwide.

US Government’s initiatives to eliminate Hepatitis

The US government has several initiatives aimed at eliminating hepatitis. One such initiative is the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan, which outlines a roadmap for eliminating viral hepatitis in the United States. The plan includes a framework for prevention, care, and treatment of viral hepatitis, as well as measures to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with the disease. The plan specifically aims to reduce the number of new infections and increase access to care and treatment for those living with viral hepatitis.

Under the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan, a The US government deveoped the Federal Implementation Plan. This plan outlines federal policies and activities intended to be implemented by partner agencies through 2025 to meet the goals of the Strategic Plan.

In this blog, we will delve into the importance of World Hepatitis Day, shed light on the different forms of hepatitis, and emphasize the significance of collective action in overcoming this silent killer.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver, which can result from various causes, including viral infections, alcohol abuse, toxins, and autoimmune diseases. However, the most common forms of hepatitis are viral, specifically Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. These viral strains can lead to chronic liver disease, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and, in some cases, death if left untreated. While each strain has its unique characteristics, all forms of viral hepatitis share the potential to cause severe health complications.

The Importance of World Hepatitis Day

1.     Raising Awareness – World Hepatitis Day is crucial in raising awareness about hepatitis and its consequences. Many people infected with the virus remain unaware of their condition, leading to continued transmission and worsening health. By educating individuals about the risk factors, symptoms, and available preventive measures, World Hepatitis Day helps to prevent new infections and encourages early detection.

2.     Elimination Goals – The World Health Organization has set ambitious goals for eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat. The “Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis 2016-2021” aims to reduce new infections by 90% and deaths by 65% by 2030. World Hepatitis Day serves as a platform to monitor progress, evaluate challenges, and renew commitments to achieve these targets.

3.     Mobilizing Resources – World Hepatitis Day is a catalyst for mobilizing resources and support from governments, healthcare professionals, civil society organizations, and the general public. It serves as an opportunity to advocate for increased funding for research, prevention programs, access to affordable diagnostics and treatment, and more robust healthcare systems.

Taking Action Against Hepatitis

“Medication alone is not enough. You have to realize the importance of adopting a healthier lifestyle to support your recovery. Cut down on junk foods and binge drinking, which are detrimental to the liver health. Find ways to boost your immune system instead. Eat well, exercise regularly. New parents must vaccinate their infants to prevent hepatitis in their children, “ says Dr. P. R. Norris. 

1.     Prevention – Vaccines are available for Hepatitis A and B, which can provide lifelong protection against these strains. According to the CDC, the Hepatitis A vaccination requires two doses for long-term prevention of HAV infection and is available for individuals of one year of age and older. The Hepatitis B vaccination requires three doses and is available for all age groups. It is important to note that there is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Therefore, individuals who may be at a higher risk of Hepatitis C should take measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as avoiding the sharing of needles, and getting screened for Hepatitis C,” says Dr. Norris. World Hepatitis Day emphasizes the importance of vaccination and encourages individuals to check their immunization status. Additionally, practicing good hygiene, safe sexual practices, and avoiding sharing needles or personal care items are vital in preventing the transmission of hepatitis.

2.     Testing and Treatment – Early diagnosis and access to appropriate treatment are essential for managing hepatitis and preventing complications. World Hepatitis Day encourages individuals at risk, such as those with a history of intravenous drug use, healthcare workers, and individuals with multiple sexual partners, to get tested regularly. Treatment options have advanced significantly in recent years, and timely interventions can significantly improve outcomes. There are several tests available to diagnose different types of hepatitis. The specific tests that may be used depend on the suspected type of hepatitis and the stage of the infection.

For hepatitis A, a blood test is used to detect specific antibodies or proteins produced by the immune system in response to the infection.

For hepatitis B, various blood tests may be done, including ones that detect the presence of hepatitis B antigens and antibodies. These tests help determine if a person has an acute or chronic infection and whether they are immune or need vaccination.

For hepatitis C, a blood test called the hepatitis C antibody test is commonly used to screen for the presence of antibodies against the hepatitis C virus. If the antibody test is positive, additional tests such as viral load measurement and genotype testing may be conducted to assess the stage and severity of the infection

3.     Advocacy and Support – World Hepatitis Day urges individuals and communities to advocate for improved access to healthcare services, affordable treatment, and supportive policies. By joining forces and speaking up about the importance of hepatitis elimination, we can influence policymakers to allocate resources and prioritize hepatitis prevention and treatment.

Remember, You are Not Alone

A Final message from Sarah from those trying to navigate through the condition is, “My message to others facing hepatitis is to hold onto hope and never give up. It’s a challenging journey, but with determination and the right support, you can overcome it. Educate yourself about the disease, seek proper medical care, and make healthier lifestyle choices. Remember that you are not alone – there are communities and resources available to support you. And lastly, use your voice to raise awareness and advocate for better access to healthcare services and treatments for everyone affected by hepatitis.”

By coming together on World Hepatitis Day and taking action against hepatitis, we can significantly reduce the burden of this silent threat and improve the lives of millions of people affected worldwide.

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