World Hepatitis Day, is observed annually on July 28 to raise global awareness of hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E — and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Hepatitis affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. The word is derived from the Greek hêpar (ἧπαρ), meaning “liver”, and -itis (-ῖτις), meaning “inflammation”. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhoea. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months. Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure. Over time the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.
The most common cause worldwide is viruses. Other causes include heavy alcohol use, certain medications, toxins, other infections, autoimmune diseases,and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). There are five main types of viral hepatitis: type A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis A and E are mainly spread by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis B is mainly sexually transmitted, but may also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth. Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are commonly spread through infected blood such as may occur during needle sharing by intravenous drug users. Hepatitis D can only infect people already infected with hepatitis B.
Hepatitis A, B, and D are preventable with immunization. Medications may be used to treat chronic cases of viral hepatitis. There is no specific treatment for NASH; however, a healthy lifestyle, including physical activity, a healthy diet, and weight loss, is important. Autoimmune hepatitis may be treated with medications to suppress the immune system. A liver transplant may also be an option in certain cases. Worldwide in 2015, hepatitis A occurred in about 114 million people, chronic hepatitis B affected about 343 million people and chronic hepatitis C about 142 million people. In the United States, NASH affects about 11 million people and alcoholic hepatitis affects about 5 million people. Hepatitis results in more than a million deaths a year, most of which occur indirectly from liver scarring or liver cancer. In the United States, hepatitis A is estimated to occur in about 2,500 people a year and results in about 75 deaths.
The inaugural International Hepatitis C Awareness day, coordinated by various European and Middle Eastern Patient Groups and Baby Muriel, took place on October 1, 2004, However many patient groups continued to mark ‘hepatitis day’ on disparate dates. Then in 2008, the World Hepatitis Alliance in collaboration with patient groups declared May 19 the first global World Hepatitis Day. Following the adoption of a resolution during the 63rd World Health Assembly in May 2010, World Hepatitis Day was given global endorsement as the primary focus for national and international awareness-raising efforts and the date was changed to July 28 (in honour of Nobel Laureate Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus, who celebrates his birthday on that date). The resolution resolves that “28 July shall be designated as World Hepatitis Day in order to provide an opportunity for education and greater understanding of viral hepatitis as a global public health problem, and to stimulate the strengthening of preventive and control measures of this disease in Member States.”
World Hepatitis Day is now recognised in over 100 countries each year through events such as free screenings, poster campaigns, demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, flash mobs and vaccination drives, amongst many others Each year a report is published by the WHO and the World Hepatitis Alliance about events worldwide. World Hepatitis Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World AIDS Day.