1.4 million people die from viral Hepatitis each year – yet the majority of these deaths could be prevented through better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent Hepatitis and we could eliminate this disease.
Viral Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There are five different types of the Hepatitis virus (A, B, C, D and E), each with their own causes and treatments.
Hepatitis A is mainly spread through contact with food or water which has been contaminated by the faeces of another infected person. It can also be contracted by eating raw shellfish which have come from water contaminated with sewage. If contracted, the body can often clear the disease itself within a few weeks, and there is also a vaccination available.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids (such as blood or saliva) of another infected individual – it can also be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. There are a variety of antiviral drugs which can be used to treat the virus, along with vaccination.
Hepatitis C is the most common Hepatitis virus in England. It is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person, although in rare cases it can also be transmitted through sexual activity. There is no vaccination for Hepatitis C, however is can be treated through courses of medication. People with different genotypes will respond differently to treatments, meaning some people will find the treatment more successful than others. Hepatitis C often causes no noticeable symptoms, or symptoms that are mistaken for the flu, so many people are unaware they are infected. Around one in four people will fight off the infection and will be free of the virus. In the remaining three out of four people, the virus will stay in their body for many years. This is known as chronic Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can be treated with a combination of medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several months. Using the latest medications over 90% of people with Hepatitis C could be cured.
Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood, and is only found in people who are already infected with the Hepatitis B virus. The condition may be improved with courses of medication, however currently there is no effective antiviral therapy available.
Hepatitis E is spread through the same means as Hepatitis A, however unlike type A, there is no treatment available for the disease.
For more information or to get involved, visit http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/en/get-involved