Every year, July 28 is celebrated as the World Hepatitis Day by the World Health Organisation. The date of 28 July was chosen because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize winning scientist Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered hepatitis B virus (HBV) and developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the virus.
Theme for 2020 - Hepatitis-free future
This year’s theme is “Hepatitis-free future” with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns.
There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus – A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, viral hepatitis continues to claim thousands of lives every day.
325 million people are living with viral hepatitis B and C
900,000 deaths per year caused by hepatitis B virus infection
10 % of people living with hepatitis B and 19% living with hepatitis C
42 % of children, globally, have access to the birth dose of the hepatitis B vaccine
A hepatitis-free future is achievable with a united effort. WHO is calling on all countries to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030
PREVENT infection among newborns. All newborns should be vaccinated against hepatitis B at birth, followed by at least 2 additional doses.
STOP TRANSMISSION from MOTHER to CHILD. All pregnant women should be routinely tested for hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis and receive treatment if needed.
LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND. Everyone should have access to hepatitis prevention, testing and treatment services, including people who inject drugs, people in prisons, migrants, and other highly-affected populations.
EXPAND access to testing and treatment. Timely testing and treatment of viral hepatitis can prevent liver cancer and other severe liver diseases.
MAINTAIN essential hepatitis services during COVID-19. Prevention and care services for hepatitis - such as infant immunization, harm reduction services and continuous treatment of chronic hepatitis B - are essential even during the pandemic.
Know hepatitis - Are you at risk?
Anyone could be at risk of hepatitis due to the size of the global epidemic (at least 10 times the HIV epidemic).
Hepatitis B and C infections are transmitted through contaminated blood as well as through contaminated needles and syringes in healthcare setting and among people who inject drugs. The viruses can also be transmitted through unsafe sex and from an infected mother to her newborn child.
With better information and knowledge about hepatitis risks, people can prevent themselves from getting infected and passing the infection on to others. To do this, people should seek testing and learn if they need treatment.
Know hepatitis - Get tested
Increasing access to hepatitis testing is key to scaling up hepatitis treatment and care.
An estimated 95% of people with hepatitis are unaware of their infection, in part due to a lack of awareness and lack of access to testing services in countries.
Know hepatitis - Demand treatment
Globally, most people who need treatment have not been treated, largely due to a lack of awareness, and access to hepatitis treatment services.
Over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be completely cured of the virus within 3–6 months.
Appropriate treatment of hepatitis B and C can prevent the development of the major life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease: cirrhosis and liver cancer.