Every year on July 28th, World Hepatitis Day is observed. The goal is to raise awareness about viral hepatitis. Hepatitis is a medical condition in which the liver is in an inflammatory condition. The theme for this year is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait”, magnifying the urgency of putting efforts to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
July 28th was chosen as the date for World Hepatitis Day because it is the birthday of Nobel-prize-winning scientist Dr. Baruch Blumberg, the scientist who discovered the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and also developed a diagnostic test and vaccine for the same virus.
Dr. Baruch Samuel Blumberg was born on July 28, 1925, and died on April 5, 2011. He was an American physician, geneticist, and co-recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Daniel Carleton Gajdusek. He was president of the American Philosophical Society from 2005 to his death. He served as a U.S. Navy deck officer during World War 2. He received his MD in 1951 from Columbia University and his D. Phil in 1957 from the University of Oxford. While studying yellow jaundice in 1964, he discovered a surface antigen for hepatitis B in the blood of an Australian aborigine, which is the reason it was initially called “Australian antigen”.
It is referred to as an inflammatory condition of the liver. It is usually caused by a viral infection but it can also be caused by other things. It can include autoimmune hepatitis and also hepatitis which can occur because of medication, drugs, toxins, and alcohol. There are five types of hepatitis based on different viruses.
Hepatitis A is caused by an infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV), this is mostly transmitted by consuming food or water which is contaminated by feces from a person infected by HAV.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids like blood, vaginal secretions, or semen. It can be transmitted by injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person.
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can also be transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, especially through used injections and sexual contact.
Hepatitis D is also known as delta hepatitis, it causes a serious liver disease by hepatitis D virus (HDV). It is caused by coming in direct contact with infected blood, it is rare as it only occurs with hepatitis B because it cannot multiply without the presence of hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E is waterborne and is caused by hepatitis E virus (HEV), it can usually be found in areas with poor sanitation and from ingesting fecal matter that has contaminated the water supply.
Facts and Figures
- 1,100,000 deaths per year are caused by Hepatitis B and C.
- 9,400,000 people are receiving treatment for chronic HCV.
- 10% of people with chronic HBV are diagnosed and 22% of those receive treatment.
- 42% of children have access to the birth dose of HBV vaccine.
- According to WHO, 325 million people around the world have HBV or HCV.
- Hepatitis isn’t just an STD, there are other ways of getting it as well.
With the figures of infection and death around the world, it is clear that we can’t just sit and wait around for them to decrease. It is important to make people aware of it, teach them the way to avoid it, and reach a stage where the vaccine can be provided to everyone. As common citizens, we can’t help in the production and reach of the vaccine but we can help in raising awareness and taking steps towards sanitation.