Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Deadly Ignorance of Hepatitis

August 3, 2013 - The World Hepatitis Alliance is calling for "urgent attention" to help fight viral hepatitis worldwide, which it says kills as many as does HIV/AIDS. Despite this alarming claim, "the great majority of countries have no programmes in place to tackle it." Tragically, ignorance of hepatitis greatly contributes to the number of deaths caused by the disease itself.

More people, both the public and the healthcare community, need to become aware of hepititis. According to Hepatitis Foundation International, "An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. Most do not know HOW they were infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year."


Video from World Heptatitis Alliance
Ignorance Kills: Far too many policymakers, health workers and members of the public are ignorant of hepatitis, how to prevent its spread, and how to treat it.

"Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "An estimated 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected." NewsMedical reports that "The Global Burden of Disease study released last year in the Lancet shows that viral hepatitis was responsible for almost 1.45 million deaths in 2010, the same as HIV/AIDS and significantly more than TB or Malaria. Despite this enormous annual death toll, leaders in global health consistently leave it off their agendas." It is astounding that such a serious disease remains so ignored. 

The World Hepatitits Alliance has some easy ways for you to get involved and help raise awareness. WHA points out these alarming facts:
  • Viral hepatitis was responsible for almost 1.45 million deaths in 2010, the same as HIV/AIDS and significantly more than TB or Malaria
  • 500 million people are living with chronic viral hepatitis. Hepatitis B and C are ‘silent’ viruses, because people may experience no symptoms
  • If left untreated, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring, liver cancer or liver failure

Being infected with certain types of the hepatitis virus can cause hepatitis and increase the risk of liver cancer. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

Hepatitis is most commonly caused by the hepatitis virus. Hepatitis is a disease that causes inflammation (swelling) of the liver. Damage to the liver from hepatitis that lasts a long time can increase the risk of liver cancer.

There are six types of the hepatitis virus. Hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), and hepatitis C (HCV) are the three most common types. These three viruses cause similar symptoms, but the ways they spread and affect the liver are different. The Hepatitis A vaccine and the hepatitis B vaccine prevent infection with hepatitis A and hepatitis B. There is no vaccine to prevent infection with hepatitis C. If a person has had one type of hepatitis in the past, it is still possible to get the other types. Read more about the six types of hepatitis...

Also See:
Global policy report on the prevention and control of viral hepatitis World Hepatitis Alliance
World Hepatitis Alliance calls for urgent action to address viral hepatitis News-Medical.net
Hepatitis C on the rise among [baby] boomers ... Sun-Sentinel
Early detection and treatment key to fighting hepatitis... The National UAE
Stigma And Ignorance Hinder The Fight Against Hepatitis MedicalTV.eu
Hepatitis C: Why Baby Boomers Should Get Tested (pdf) CDC.gov

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