It is World Hepatitis Day today, a time to raise awareness of the viral hepatitis infection that affects 400 million people worldwide – and which claims the lives of about 1.4 million people each year. Only 5% of people with chronic hepatitis know they have the infection, yet it is fully preventable and treatable.
There are effective vaccines and treatments for hepatitis B, and over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be cured with treatment. The vision of eliminating hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030 can be achieved, if people affected by the disease get the support they need to "know hepatitis" and "act now".
Hepatitis B and C infections are transmitted through contaminated blood, contaminated needles, through unsafe sex or from an infected mother to her newborn child. With better information and knowledge about hepatitis risks, people can prevent themselves from getting infected and passing the infection on to others.
To do this, people should seek testing if they might have been at risk and find out if they need treatment. Getting the right treatment of hepatitis B and C can prevent the development of the major life-threatening complications of chronic liver disease – cirrhosis and liver cancer.