An estimated 325 million people living with chronic hepatitis B or C worldwide.
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and the importance of prevention, testing, and treatment. Hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver, and viral hepatitis is caused by a group of viruses that primarily affect the liver. There are five main types of viral hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E. Each type of viral hepatitis has different modes of transmission, symptoms, and treatments.
Viral hepatitis is a global public health problem, with an estimated 325 million people living with chronic hepatitis B or C worldwide. Viral hepatitis can lead to serious liver damage, including liver failure and liver cancer. However, many people with viral hepatitis are unaware of their infection status, as symptoms may not be present or may be mild and nonspecific. This is why testing and awareness are critical in preventing the spread of viral hepatitis and ensuring that those living with the disease receive the necessary care and treatment.
Prevention is an important aspect of hepatitis awareness. Vaccination is available for hepatitis A and B, which can help prevent infection. Other prevention measures include practicing safe sex, avoiding sharing needles or other injection equipment, and ensuring safe food and water sources. It is also important to get tested for viral hepatitis if you are at risk, such as if you have a history of injection drug use or unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Identifying and treating viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis awareness is also important for reducing stigma and discrimination associated with viral hepatitis. Many people living with viral hepatitis face discrimination and social exclusion due to misunderstandings about the disease. By raising awareness and promoting education, we can reduce stigma and create a supportive environment for those living with viral hepatitis.
Testing is key to identifying and treating viral hepatitis.
Treatment for viral hepatitis varies depending on the type of virus and the severity of liver damage.
Blood tests can detect the presence of viral hepatitis and determine the specific type of virus.
Antiviral medications are available for chronic hepatitis B and C, and in some cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.
WHO is reminding countries to expand access to life-saving prevention, testing, and treatment services for viral hepatitis.