Health Q&A

World Hepatitis Day: A guide to hepatitis and why you should get involved

July 15, 2017

Every year, the 28th of July sees World Hepatitis Day take place. This day is here to bring the world together to raise awareness of the global burden of hepatitis. This day is key, as hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death globally. In fact, a staggering 1.34 million deaths per year are down to this devastating virus.

Tragically, many people aren’t even aware they have hepatitis. This means they can be subject to fatal liver damage without having the slightest idea.

It also means that they risk passing this infection onto others without realising.

Yet there are effective vaccinations and treatments available for some hepatitis types plus easy prevention methods… So, reducing the 1.34 million deaths a year is certainly achievable.

In honour of World Hepatitis Day, we want to spread the word about all the different types of hepatitis to raise awareness of this terrible virus, and to help you find out how each type can be prevented.

Ultimately, we want to join in with raising the profile of hepatitis to help reduce the number of fatalities.

Hepatitis A

What is it?

Hepatitis A is a liver infection that’s mainly spread through eating or drinking contaminated food or water. This disease is common in countries with poor sanitation and water. Symptoms can include feeling generally unwell, a fever, throwing up, and developing jaundice.

How can it be treated?  

There’s no cure for hepatitis A. Usually, you can look after yourself at home and it will pass within a couple of months.

How can it be prevented?

There’s a vaccine to prevent hepatitis A, but you can reduce your chances of contracting it by practicing good hygiene and avoiding unclean water.

Hepatitis B

What is it?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. It can be symptomless, and the body may fight it off without realising. However, in severe cases it causes flu like symptoms, vomiting, diarrhoea, and jaundice.

How can it be treated?

Often, the body will heal itself. Antiviral medicine is available to reduce the risk of the virus causing long-term damage to the liver.

How can it be prevented?

A vaccine is available, but if you’ve not been vaccinated, it’s best to use condoms and avoid sharing needles, toothbrushes, razors, or nail scissors with an infected person.

Hepatitis C

What is it?

Hepatitis C is a virus that is spread through blood-to-blood contact. If contracted, it can infect the liver. Often it doesn’t have noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. So, it’s important to get tested and treated.

How can it be treated?

A number of antiviral drugs are available to treat Hepatitis C. Advancements in the latest medication means a high percentage will be cured after the treatment. However, this doesn’t prevent you from getting the virus again.

How can it be prevented?

There’s no vaccination for hepatitis C but you can reduce your risk of being infected by not sharing needles, other drug-injecting equipment, razors, toothbrushes, or nail scissors.

Hepatitis D

What is it?

Hepatitis D is a viral infection that only affects people who have already contracted hepatitis B. This is because it needs the hepatitis B virus to be able to survive in the body. Spread through blood-to-blood contact with another infected person, this virus can cause long-term damage to the liver.

How can it be treated?

Currently, there’s no specific treatment for hepatitis D. There are antiviral drugs available, but these are not always effective.

How can it be prevented?  

Because hepatitis D can only survive if the body as hepatitis B, the hepatitis B vaccine is one way of preventing this virus. You can also prevent the virus by not sharing drug-injecting equipment, toothbrushes, razors, or nail scissors with someone who has hepatitis.

Hepatitis E

What is it?

Like hepatitis A, hepatitis E is usually caught by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Typically, it’s a short-term infection that the body will fight naturally. In some cases, though, it can be chronic. Symptoms can include feeling generally unwell, fever, vomiting, and jaundice.

How can it be treated?

There’s no treatment for hepatitis E – usually you will recover by yourself.  

How can it be prevented?

Hepatitis E can be prevented by practicing good hygiene and sanitation and by only drinking water that’s come from a safe source.

If you have concerns about hepatitis or being at risk of infection, our team of trained nurses would be happy to listen. Please feel free to get in touch.