Each year, World Hepatitis Day is celebrated on July 28 and aims to bring awareness to hepatitis. It is estimated that 400 million people have viral hepatitis, according to the World Health Organization.
“Most people who have hepatitis don’t know that they are infected,” said Deputy State Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall, M.D., M.P.H. “Sadly, over one million people die from viral hepatitis every year world-wide.”
Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. The most common include hepatitis A, B and C.
Hepatitis A is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B and C are both spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Acute hepatitis infections, especially Hepatitis A, can be life-threatening. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is through vaccination. The vaccine is recommended for all children, for travelers to certain countries and for people at high risk for infection with the virus.
In 2014 in Indiana, 20 cases of hepatitis A, 126 cases of hepatitis B, and 6,628 cases of hepatitis C were reported to the Indiana State Department of Health. To view hepatitis C rates in your county, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/26680.htm.
It is estimated that 4,000 people die each day from some form of viral hepatitis. On Tuesday, July 28, help raise awareness about hepatitis on Facebook and Twitter by posting and using the hashtag #4000voices. This hashtag represents the individuals who die every day from hepatitis.
“Hepatitis can lead to liver disease and liver cancer,” said Dr. Walthall. “Knowing your status can help prevent serious problems and stop the spread of disease to others.”
Viral hepatitis is preventable, and you can lower your risk by practicing good hygiene, practicing safe sex and avoid sharing injection drug equipment such as needles. You can also get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
Find out your risk for hepatitis by taking the hepatitis risk test at http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/ and talk to your doctor about getting tested.
For more information about hepatitis and World Hepatitis Day, visit http://worldhepatitisday.org/.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health atwww.StateHealth.in.gov. Follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.