World Hepatitis Day 2021 - Raising Awareness and Influencing Change

By Lindsay Wertman, WFCF Blog Editor on May 21, 2021
World Hepatitis Day 2021

Although the world is currently still struggling to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to remember other widespread diseases impacting individuals globally. On July 28th, 2021, people all over the globe will be recognizing World Hepatitis Day. The event which takes place on the same date every year is held with the hope of raising awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and aimed at influencing real change.

The 2021 theme is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait” – focusing on the fact that:

  • People living with viral hepatitis unaware can’t wait for testing.
  • People living with hepatitis can’t wait for life saving treatments.
  • Expectant mothers can’t wait for hepatitis screening and treatment.
  • Newborn babies can’t wait for birth dose vaccination.
  • People affected by hepatitis can’t wait to end stigma and discrimination.
  • Community organizations can’t wait for greater investment.
  • Decision makers can’t wait and must act now to make hepatitis elimination a reality through political will and funding.

Every 30 seconds someone dies from a hepatitis related illness. At present, there are an estimated 290 million people living with viral hepatitis that don’t even know it. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and mortality rates will be high.

Hepatitis is ultimately an inflammation of the liver. Because the liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections, any time that the liver becomes inflamed or damaged, its function can be severely impacted. The most common types of viral hepatitis include – hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. (Source: CDC)

People living without access to vaccines and/or in unsanitary conditions are at highest risk.

Key Facts (Source: CDC):

Hepatitis A Hepatitis B Hepatitis C
  • Effective vaccine available
  • Outbreaks are still occurring - widespread person-to-person outbreaks
  • Recent foodborne outbreaks
  • Common in many countries, especially those without modern sanitation.
  • Spread when a person ingests fecal matter – even in microscopic amounts – from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.
  • People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months.
  • Most recover with no lasting liver damage.
  • Although very rare, death can occur.
  • Effective vaccine available
  • About 2 in 3 people with hepatitis B do not know they are infected.
  • Hepatitis B is a leading cause of liver cancer.
  • Primarily spread when blood, semen, or certain other body fluids – even in microscopic amounts – from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.
  • 15% to 25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
  • About 50% of people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected.
  • Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver transplants and liver cancer.
  • Spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus – even in microscopic amounts – enters the body of someone who is not infected.
  • More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection.
  • 5% to 25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 10 to 20 years.

World Forgotten Children Foundation (WFCF) focuses much of its energy on supporting communities in need in underdeveloped regions. Understanding that communities at the highest risk for viral hepatitis are those where vaccines are limited and sanitation is poor, it’s important that funds be raised for initiatives that can aid in these areas. To donate to WFCF’s various causes, please access the donation page.

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