World Hepatitis Day is recognized annually on July 28 to raise awareness of hepatitis, a condition that affects over 325 million people worldwide, and what steps are to be taken to strengthen the efforts in screening, prevention and control of the disease. The theme this year is ‘Finding the Missing Millions’. The campaign aims to increase global awareness and tackle the barriers to diagnosis so that not a single individual has to live with the condition without knowing.
Here are a few ways to spread awareness among the common people on this World Hepatitis Day –
Identify the risk factors
Although everyone is prone to hepatitis, it is more common in some patients than in others. Different types of hepatitis – A, B and C – may affect people differently. Therefore, identifying the risk factors is crucial.
Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through contaminated food and water ingestion or contact with an infected person. It is more likely to affect people, who –
Have been infected in the past or are not vaccinated
Reside in places with lack of safe drinking water and/poor sanitation
Live with someone who is infected
Have sexual relations with someone with hepatitis A
Use drugs recreationally
Hepatitis C and B are primarily transmitted through unprotected sex, during childbirth, and the use of contaminated needles. It is mostly seen in people, who –
Have a family history of hepatitis B
Are sexually involved with multiple partners
Use illicit drugs
Have a chronic liver or kidney disease
Works in healthcare and are possibly exposed to blood
Have been pierced with an infected needle
Hepatitis C mostly affects people, who –
Have a history of organ donation or blood transfusion
Inject illicit drugs
Were born to HCV+ mothers
Works in healthcare and are likely to encounter needle-stick accidents
The common symptoms of hepatitis include loss of appetite, jaundice, abdominal pain, fever, dark urine, fatigue, vomiting and nausea, and diarrhoea. However, some people may be asymptotic. Identifying at-risk patients and encouraging screening can help lower the risk.
There are effective and safe vaccines for hepatitis B and A. CDC recommends the vaccine for hepatitis B for infants at birth and the vaccine for hepatitis A for 1-year old children. The series of vaccine for hepatitis B needs to be completed by 6-18 months of age. Although there is no vaccine for HCV at present, individuals can avoid certain activities that expose them to the infection to lower the risk. It is particularly important to avoid the use of injected drugs.
Provide educational resources
Most often, a person living with hepatitis is unaware of the condition unless symptoms start showing up. Screenings and vaccinations must be encouraged. There are many ways to raise awareness and spread the word through pamphlets, posters, social media, or by directly interacting with patients and encouraging others to do the same.
Even though the world observes World Hepatitis Day once a year, you can do your bit and be involved throughout the year to help raise awareness through different means. If you have any queries or questions concerning hepatitis, feel free to consult a doctor. Go for regular screening and follow-ups to keep track of your health.
World Hepatitis Day is a great opportunity to promote awareness worldwide. Nevertheless, it is important to take part in such campaigns actively all around the year to promote vaccinations and screenings. The above steps can help you spread the word and reduce the risk of hepatitis globally.