Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day

Taryn Davies
Published: July 28, 2016

Today is World Hepatitis Day and this year is more important than ever thanks to a strategy that's in place with plans for elimination by 2030. But how can we eliminate something we don’t know much about? Here are the facts you should know about hepatitis.

Every year, World Hepatitis Day is a momentous global platform for raising awareness about hepatitis and influence real change in disease prevention, testing, and treatment.

The theme for this year’s event is ‘Know hepatitis. Act now.’

400 million people are affected globally by viral hepatitis, and it's evident from the figures that it anyone is at risk of contracting it.

Here’s what you need to know about hepatitis.

Types of hepatitis

Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E – is something that affects 400 million of people across the world. What's more, it kills nearly 1.4 million people each year too.

What causes hepatitis?

Everyone could be at risk of hepatitis, the biggest risk of contracting the infection are unprotected sex, unsafe injections, transmission from mother to child and injecting drug use too.

Figures suggest that just a small percentage of those with chronic hepatitis known about their infection and what's even more shocking less than 1% don't have treatment accessible to them.

Know hepatitis. Act now TheFuss.co.uk

Symptoms of hepatitis

Symptoms of the infection might not always be noticeable, but they can often include:

  • physically being sick, and feeling unwell too
  • muscle and joint pain
  • a high temperature
  • constantly tired
  • appetite loss
  • stomach pain
  • dark coloured urine
  • faeces that is pale and grey
  • skin that's unusually itch
  • jaundice

If you have chronic hepatitis there may not be any noticeable symptoms, that is until the liver stops working, and this type is often only picked up during blood tests.

It's easy to be unaware of the hepatitis infection, in fact nearly 95% aren't aware. The tests are costly, and are complex too, which means a lot of people don't have access to them.

Hepatitis A

How is Hepatitis A transmitted?

This is usually spread when an infected person's faeces contaminate food or drinking water and are then consumed. There is also the possibility of contracting it through raw shellfish which is from water contaminated with the faeces.

Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day TheFuss.co.uk

Is there a vaccination?

Yes, if you get treated within a few weeks, you'll also have short-term immunity.

Hepatitis A treatment

This particular type only results in acute hepatitis, which is typically cleared in weeks.

Hepatitis B

How is Hepatitis B transmitted?

This type is passed through blood, semen, saliva and vaginal fluid of those with the virus. You can also pass it through birth.

Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day TheFuss.co.uk

Is there a vaccination?

Yes, there is a vaccination. But of course, the use of condoms is vital. Also don't share needles, razors etc with those who are infected.

Hepatitis B treatment

To avoid chronic hepatitis B children should be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth.

Hepatitis C

How is Hepatitis C transmitted?

It is mainly passed through blood-to-blood contact. But there is also a chance of it being spread through sex.

Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day TheFuss.co.uk

Is there a vaccination?

There isn't a vaccination for hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C treatment

You can successfully treat Hepatitis C with a course of different medicines, which depends on the strain of the virus you have. It's also suggested that you live a healthy lifestyle whilst you cure the virus.

Hepatitis D

How is Hepatitis D transmitted?

This is passed when you come into contact with infected blood.

Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day TheFuss.co.uk

Is there a vaccination?

Hepatitis D is only formed in those people who are already contaminated with hepatitis B, therefore you should have already had a vaccination.

Hepatitis D treatment

There is currently no effective treatment.

Hepatitis E

How is Hepatitis E transmitted?

Hepatitis E is transmitted by the same means as hepatitis A.

Is there a vaccination?

There is a vaccine, but it's not available readily.

Hepatitis E treatment

Currently, there is no treatment.

Facts you should know about hepatitis this World Hepatitis Day TheFuss.co.uk

I’m Worth campaign

To mark World Hepatitis Day, I’m Worth… patient advocate Louise is speaking up about the barriers that are faced by people living with hepatitis C in getting access to care, to help eliminate the stigma associated with the virus.

NHS worker, Louise, wants to help people who have hepatitis C to suffer no stigma. She says that people shocked her with their reaction to finding out she had the disease.

People with hepatitis C struggle to get the care they deserve for a range of reasons, including not realising that they may be able to get rid of the virus with treatment, not feeling confident about discussing their care, and stigma and discrimination that they feel might result in them being denied care or de-prioritised. Injecting drug use remains the most important risk factor for hepatitis C infection in the UK, as such people are frequently blamed for developing the disease and viewed as irresponsible or ‘unworthy’ of treatment.

The I’m Worth… campaign calls on the general public, health service providers, policymakers and media to do their part to combat stigma so that recent advances in hepatitis C care translate into a better future for patients.