This year will be the sixth annual World Hepatitis Day which takes place on 28th July 2013, which is the same date as the birthday of Nobel Laureate Professor Blumberg who discovered Hepatitis B.

World Hepatitis Day

The whole point of the day is to encourage people to find out the facts about Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C – this increased awareness and information should help decrease the stigmas attached to the viruses.

So what is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, caused by the Hepatitis A virus, is the most common type of viral Hepatitis. It occurs in the UK, but is more common in countries where sanitation and sewage removal are poor. Around 350 cases are reported each year in England, with most cases occurring in people who have travelled abroad. Hepatitis A is usually caught by putting something in your mouth that has been contaminated with the faeces of someone with Hepatitis A. It is usually a short-term infection and symptoms will pass within 3 months. There is no specific treatment for Hepatitis A other than using medication, such as the painkiller ibuprofen, to relieve symptoms. A vaccination can protect you against Hepatitis A. This is recommended if you are travelling to countries where the virus is common, such as the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Central and South America, the Far East and Eastern Europe.

Read more about Hepatitis A here.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by the Hepatitis B virus. This can be found in blood and body fluids, such as semen and vaginal fluids, so it can be spread during unprotected sex or by sharing needles to inject drugs. Hepatitis B is uncommon in England and cases are largely confined to certain groups, such as drug users. It is much more common in other parts of the world, such as China, central and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Most people infected with Hepatitis B are able to fight off the virus and fully recover from the infection within a couple of months. The infection can be unpleasant to live with, but usually causes no long-term harm. However, a small minority of people develop a long-term infection. This is known as chronic Hepatitis B. A vaccination is available for Hepatitis B, which is recommended for people in high-risk groups, such as injecting drug users.

You can read more about Hepatitis B here.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral Hepatitis in England. It is estimated that around 255,000 people in England have the condition. Hepatitis C is caused by the Hepatitis C virus. This can be found in the blood and the saliva and semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person.  It is particularly concentrated in the blood, so it is usually transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. In England, its most commonly spread through sharing needles to inject drugs, which account for 9 out of 10 cases. Hepatitis C often causes no noticeable symptoms or symptoms that are mistaken for the flu, so many people are unaware they are infected. Around one in four people will fight off the infection and will be free of the virus. In the remaining three out of four people, the virus will stay in their body for many years. This is known as chronic Hepatitis C. Chronic Hepatitis C can be treated by taking antiviral medications, although there can be unpleasant side effects. There is currently no vaccination for Hepatitis C.

Read more about Hepatitis C here.

You can also find out more by visiting the Hepatitis C Trust website here.

We at HomeCareDirect feels it is important raise awareness about Hepatitis and would like to hear your thoughts and experiences on the subject, so please get in touch with us here.