Field of Science

World Hepatitis Day

It's world Hepatitis day and this blood borne viral disease shouldn't be forgotten. Hepatitis B is the most common and can cause severe liver disease (including liver cancer). There is a vaccine for Hepatitis B, however it can only be given if you are not infected with the virus. If infected highly effective anti-viral drugs and interferons are available. The trouble with this disease is that many people are unaware they have it, making it a huge problem globally.

A few facts:
  • There are 5 forms of the virus (A, B & C being most common with D & E being more rare)
  • 10 million drug users worldwide have Hepatitis C
  • 1.3 million drug users worldwide have Hepatitis B
  • Approximatley half of the UK's drug users have been infected with Hepatitis C virus

So, Hepatitis should not be forgotten and can be transmitted, like HIV, via bodily fluids, such as intraveneous drug users and sexual intercourse (however hepatitis is 50 to100 times more infectious than HIV).

Key messages: Be AWARE of Hepatitis, get vaccinated, get tested, get treated.

References:
World Health Organization (WHO) http://www.who.int/topics/hepatitis/en/ (accessed 28/07/11)
BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14314347 (accessed 28/07/11)

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