World Hepatitis Day (WHD) occurs every year on July 28th. The premise behind the day is to raise awareness of the global problem viral hepatitis is and try to find real change in the process. This year, the 2021 theme is ‘Hepatitis Can’t Wait.’ Every 30 seconds someone dies from a hepatitis related illness, even during this Covid-19 pandemic.
So, what is Hepatitis? Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition that happens in the liver. The most common cause of this condition is a viral infection. There are other possible causes such as autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that is a secondary result of alcohol, drug, or medication use. There are 5 types of viral hepatitis with a different virus being responsible for each type that is virally transmitted. Hep A is always an acute, short-term disease, while hepatitis B, C, and D are likely to become chronic. Hepatitis E is usually acute but can be very dangerous to women who are pregnant.
In some forms of this disease a person may not have any symptoms to begin with. However, by the time symptoms do occur, damage to the liver has already occurred and started to affect the liver’s function. The signs and symptoms to look out for include:
People who live with viral hepatitis that live unaware can not wait for testing. Chronic hepatitis can lead to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The CDC is pushing to implement interventions to increase hepatitis B vaccines to be given at birth. This is a serious disease that everyone should take part in bringing awareness to and helping eradicate.