Join us on World Hepatitis Day. Learn about the silent pandemic, the importance of early testing, treatment, and how to help eliminate Hepatitis by 2030.
Every year, on July 28th, the world unites in the fight against a global health threat: hepatitis. This silent killer claims countless lives annually, and many are unaware that they carry this dangerous virus. With the advent of World Hepatitis Day, the world takes a stand against this disease, promoting awareness, encouraging prevention, testing, and treatment, and supporting those affected by hepatitis.
Background and History
World Hepatitis Day is a global health event, officially endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This day emerged as part of a comprehensive effort to battle a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Back in 2007, the World Hepatitis Alliance organized the first community-driven World Hepatitis Day. The event was initially observed on May 19 but was moved to July 28 in 2010.
The date was chosen to honor the birthday of Dr. Baruch Samuel Blumberg, the American physician who discovered the hepatitis B virus in the 1960s. His groundbreaking work led to the development of a diagnostic test and a vaccine for the virus, earning him the prestigious Nobel Prize.
The Silent Epidemic: Understanding Hepatitis
Hepatitis refers to an inflammation of the liver, often caused by a viral infection. There are five main types of Hepatitis viruses — A, B, C, D, and E. These types pose the greatest concern due to their potential for causing serious illness, death, outbreaks, and epidemic spread.
Hepatitis A and E are typically contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Vaccination can prevent Hepatitis A, while no vaccine is currently available for Hepatitis E in the United States.
Hepatitis B and C can lead to chronic disease and are commonly spread through infected blood and other body fluids. Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination, while Hepatitis C can be cured with treatments.
Hepatitis D is a liver infection that only occurs in people already infected with the Hepatitis B virus. It can lead to severe symptoms, lifelong liver damage, and even death.
The Global Impact of Hepatitis
According to the WHO's Global Hepatitis Report of 2017, viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally, accounting for 1.34 million deaths per year. This figure is comparable to the death rates of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria. Hepatitis B and C alone cause 80% of liver cancer cases worldwide.
The distressing fact is that 90% of people with hepatitis B and 80% of people with hepatitis C are not aware of their status. This lack of awareness means many people could be developing severe liver disease or even unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.
The Significance of World Hepatitis Day
The primary goal of World Hepatitis Day is to raise awareness about this global health issue. Communities, individuals, and politicians can learn about the different types of hepatitis, as well as prevention strategies, testing, and treatment options.
This day serves as a platform to spotlight the massive impact of viral hepatitis infection globally, with more than 350 million people affected by either chronic hepatitis B or C. On World Hepatitis Day, organizations across the globe work together to raise awareness about the disease and strengthen efforts in prevention, screening, and control of viral hepatitis.
The Theme for World Hepatitis Day 2023: One life, one liver
Every year, World Hepatitis Day revolves around a specific theme to raise understanding of the global hepatitis situation and drive positive action. The theme for 2023 is "One life, one liver," emphasizing the importance of each individual's health in the fight against hepatitis.
This theme serves as a powerful call to countries worldwide: it is time to scale up access to testing and treatment. With the current theme of 'We're not waiting,' the call to action for World Hepatitis Day 2023 is to accelerate the elimination of viral hepatitis, emphasizing the urgent need for testing and treatment for the real people who need it.
How to Participate in World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day offers a variety of ways individuals and organizations can participate and contribute to the cause. Here are some ways to get involved:
Assess Your Risk and Take Action
Use online tools to find out if you are at risk for hepatitis B or C, then take action to locate a nearby provider of hepatitis B vaccination or hepatitis B or C testing.
Use the World Hepatitis Day Logo & Other Digital Tools
Incorporate the World Hepatitis Day logo into your communications, such as your website, blog posts, or social media posts. Visit the World Health Organization page and the World Hepatitis Alliance to find an array of digital tools.
Join the conversation on social media using hashtags #WorldHepatitisDay, #HepAware, and #hepatitis.
Use Educational Campaign Materials
Watch and Share Videos
Learn more about viral hepatitis through videos from federal partners.
The Goal: Elimination of Viral Hepatitis by 2030
The World Health Organization aims to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. This ambitious goal is achievable, given the availability of effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B, and a cure for hepatitis C. However, greater awareness, understanding of the disease, and access to affordable diagnostics and treatment are crucial.
World Hepatitis Day presents an ideal opportunity for us all to unite and raise the profile of viral hepatitis. Through awareness, prevention, and treatment, we can work towards the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat. Remember, the fight against hepatitis can't wait.
As World Hepatitis Day approaches, let it serve as a reminder that the fight against hepatitis is far from over. Our collective efforts can make a significant difference in preventing the spread of this dangerous disease and ultimately, in saving lives. Let us all make a commitment to educate ourselves and others about hepatitis, its risks, and ways to prevent it. Together, we can eliminate hepatitis.
Sources and Further Reading
For additional information about hepatitis and World Hepatitis Day, please visit the following resources: