World Hepatitis Day
About World Hepatitis Day
World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims 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.
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.
Approximately 500 million people worldwide are living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C. If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure. While many people worry more about contracting AIDS than hepatitis, the reality is that every year 1.5 million people worldwide die from either hepatitis B or C faster than they would from HIV/AIDS.
Hepatitis groups, patients and advocates worldwide take part in events on 28 July to mark the occasion. Notably in 2012, a Guinness World Record was created when 12,588 people from 20 countries did the Three Wise Monkeys actions on World Hepatitis Day to signify the willful ignorance of the disease.
The inaugural International Hepatitis C Awareness day, coordinated by various European and Middle Eastern Patient Groups, took place on October 1, 2004, However many patient groups continued to mark ‘hepatitis day’ on disparate dates. For this reason 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 detailing all the events across the world.
World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on actions such as:
- Raising awareness of the different forms of hepatitis and how they are transmitted;
- Strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;
- Increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration into national immunization programmes;
- Coordinating a global response to hepatitis;
- Fighting stigmatization;
- Moving towards the elimination of hepatitis since drugs are readily available.
Ever wonder what the world will look like in 2030? Will there be driverless cars, David Bowie hologram concerts, a self-sufficient Africa or even Blue Ivy headlining Glastonbury? These things are all unknown but what is certain, viral hepatitis can be eliminated if we take action now.
Today, on World Hepatitis Day, HepSupport is taking part in the launch of NOhep, a global movement set up by the World Hepatitis Alliance to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. The movement is calling on people across the world to sign up to the movement and take action to make the elimination of viral hepatitis our next greatest achievement.
Viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver due to a virus, is the 7th leading cause of death globally, accounting for 1.4 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS or malaria. The most common of the viruses are hepatitis B and C, which affect up to 400 million worldwide and cause 80% of liver cancer deaths worldwide.
“We have the right to treatment for a cancer-causing virus” said Dr. Rittoo, “Let’s join together on World Hepatitis Day to stop millions of needless deaths and ensure everybody receives life-saving medication because only then we will have a world with “NOhep” said Dr. Rittoo, a NOheptivist.
Awareness & education campaign through media
NOhep’s fundamental objective is to build awareness of viral hepatitis and the crucial role people can play, in their own lives, at more structural levels and in their communities, to help eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030. Based on the premise of social justice, NOhep is calling on all levels of society to take action to ensure the elimination of viral hepatitis is our next greatest achievement.
Nothing like this has ever been done for hepatitis before, and now, with the adoption of the World Health Organization’s Viral Hepatitis Strategy an the commitment of 194 governments to eliminate viral hepatitis, it can be a reality.
By 2030, NOhep hopes to bring people together to save 7.1 million lives, by raising global awareness of hepatitis, helping those affected by hepatitis to speak up and by pressing governments to scale up resources to meet the targets outlined the strategy.
We may not know if he Simpsons will still be running, nor if our dogs will be able to speak to us through an app by 2030, but one thing is for sure, if we take action today we can help eliminate viral hepatitis. If you want to find out more what could happen in 2030, watch the above ‘2030 Year in Review’ video and join the movement at NOhep.org.
Yet, hepatitis is fully preventable and treatable: there are effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B, and over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be cured with treatment. The vision of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 can be achieved, if people and countries affected by this disease were better equipped and enabled to “know hepatitis” and “act now”.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
WHO will release its first hepatitis testing guidelines in 2016. The guidelines will provide guidance on who should be tested, and will recommend simple testing strategies to help country efforts to scale up hepatitis testing, treatment and care.
- 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.