Today is the sixth annual World Hepatitis Day. President Obama issued a press release calling this disease a silent epidemic, and urging people to break the silence and start talking about Hepatitis.
The White House has further stated that the current goal of this presidency is to reduce the number of new Hepatitis C cases by 25 percent, to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of Hepatitis B, and to increase the number of people who know that they have the disease. The new health care plan known as “The Affordable Care Act,” or “Obama-Care,” requires that health insurance plans cover vaccines and screenings of the disease. To see the entire press release, click on the following link-
Here are some facts about Hepatitis:
Hepatitis affects one in twelve people worldwide.
The World Health Organization has deemed it to be the 8th biggest killer of the human race.
There are different types of Hepatitis, types A, B, C, D and E. Types A, B and C are the most common.
Hepatitis A is transmitted through ingestion of food or water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person, or through direct contact with an infectious person. The incubation period is 14-28 days. This form of the virus is most commonly found in areas where there is a lack of sanitation. This form of the disease does not cause chronic liver disease, but instead is known for its cyclical pattern of recurrences. In countries with poor sanitation practices, 90% of children are infected with Hepatitis A before they reach the age of ten, yet symptoms are more severe in adults then in children. Some of the symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, dark colored urine and jaundice. There is no treatment for this form of the disease, short of rest and hydration, and good nutrition.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. The most common form of contact is an infected mother giving birth to an infected child. Vaccines given to babies within 24 hours of birth can prevent this. This form of the disease attacks the liver and causes an acute, chronic disease which can be life-threatening. This form of Hepatitis is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. There is also a high population of people with the disease in the Amazon, Eastern and Central Europe, in the Middle East and India.
The Hepatitis B virus can live outside of the body for seven days.
Hepatitis C is transmitted by exposure to infected blood. This can happen by blood transfusions, organ transplants, sexual intercourse, injections with contaminated syringes, or being born to a Hepatitis C-infected mother. There are six classes of Hepatitis C, called ‘genotypes.’ Treatment options may vary depending upon the genotype, and sadly, the availability of drugs. For example, Interferon has been successful with some genotypes, but it is not yet available worldwide.
The World Hepatitis Alliance is comprised of 165 patient groups in 66 countries and represents the 500 million people worldwide who are living with viral Hepatitis. The alliance has conducted research that concluded that although Hepatitis is killing as many people as the HIV/AIDS virus, there is very little being done about it. For this reason the alliance is calling for new programs and policy changes, especially in areas where the epidemic is rising. For more information about the alliance, see the following link-
Hepatitis is the major cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis in the United States. 18,000 people in the U.S. die each year from these two diseases.
Treatment of Hepatitis can lower the death toll, but the major problem is that many people do not know they have the disease because the symptoms may not be apparent at first. Some people don’t show symptoms of the disease for decades. Like the HIV/AIDS virus, the people who are infected and don’t know it pose the greatest risk because they are the most likely to pass on the viral form of Hepatitis. For this reason, Hepatitis B and C are called ‘silent’ viruses.
In America, Hepatitis is more likely to occur in the following groups-
Minorities, specifically African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
People born between 1945 and 1965. For more information about Hepatitis amongst Baby Boomers, see the following link-
People who use needles that may be contaminated. This may be for drug use, or people who get tattoos or piercings from others who are re-using needles.
Here’s what you can do-
Get tested for Hepatitis.
Avoid activities that put you at risk for viral Hepatitis:
Don’t share needles. If you are getting tattoos or piercings, make sure that the tools are sterile.
Children, and adults with high risk factors should get vaccines for Hepatitis A and B.
If you want to know if you fall under a high-risk group for Hepatitis, you can find out by taking a free online assessment from the Center for Disease Control, (CDC.) To complete the assessment, see the following link-
If you have Hepatitis C, there is no vaccine, but treatment of the disease will reduce chances of transmitting it to others, as well as prolong your own life by avoiding complications from the disease.
If you found this article to be of interest, please click on “+Subscribe” underneath the title of the article to receive free automatic email updates when this author writes again.