28 July 2017 – J Edison -
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World Hepatitis Day 2017
World Hepatitis Day is July 28th, Hepatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the liver, a disease which is the result of a virus infection. The good news: viral hepatitis is usually preventable with a vaccine and can be treated with medication. The bad news: not everybody knows this. And subsequently, 4,000 people worldwide are unnecessarily affected by this disease every day, while 1.4 million people die each year from viral hepatitis. The WHO and World Hepatitis Alliance hope to establish more international attention on hepatitis so that this shocking mortality rate can fall. The theme of this year’s campaign is ‘Show your face to eliminate. hepatitis.‘
A, B or C?
Viral hepatitis can be subdivided into 5 types: Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Among these variants, A, B and C are the most common. There are some differences between these conditions.
Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and/or water. There is a vaccine available for hepatitis A, but no specific medication. Most people infected with this disease make a full recovery within a few months.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contaminated blood or other body fluids, for example, saliva, vaginal secretions and semen. People with hepatitis B usually make a full recovery without any treatment but it may also be chronic and require antiviral drugs and medications that strengthen the immune system. There is also a vaccine that makes the body immune to the virus that causes the disease.
Hepatitis C is only transmitted through blood. There is no vaccine available for this variant. The disease is treated with antiviral drugs and drugs that stimulate the immune system.
How can you recognise the signs of hepatitis?
Hepatitis is an insidious disease as the symptoms are hardly noticeable at first and only emerge at a later stage. However, these are quite vague: fatigue, muscle aches, fever and overall malaise. You might well think that you have the flu, but in the meantime, you are contagious! Vaccines and medicines are available and most people recover from the virus without any treatment, so you might get the impression that hepatitis is nothing to worry about. However, nothing could be further from the truth. An untreated liver inflammation can have serious consequences, increasing, for example, the risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. In addition, after a hepatitis infection, you might well have to take life-long medications.
Prevention of hepatitis
Hepatitis is preventable. Risk groups, such as doctors and nurses, people with multiple sexual partners and drug addicts, can be vaccinated. If you are planning to go to a high-risk area (Africa and Asia), you should be vaccinated first. In addition, good personal hygiene is very important. Do not share needles, razors and toothbrushes. These objects can contain traces of infected blood. In addition, you should always use a condom as hepatitis B is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. If you are worried that you might have contracted hepatitis, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your GP. A simple blood test can indicate whether you are indeed infected. Your doctor will then be able to prescribe you with the right medication.
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Last updated on July 28, 2017.