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July 2018 – Blog on World Hepatitis Day; 28 July 2018

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World Hepatitis Day is the international campaign every July to raise global awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C and to encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The aim is to strengthen prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases, increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration into national immunisation programs and coordinating a global response to hepatitis to increase access to treatment.

Approximately 1 in 12 people worldwide is living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C. If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure. That’s why this year’s campaign is about ‘finding the missing millions’ of undiagnosed Hepatitis carriers.

Hepatitis A

Generally, World Hepatitis Day focuses on Hepatitis B and C as these are more prolific; vaccination against hepatitis A isn’t routinely offered in the UK because the risk of infection is low for most people. It’s only recommended for those at high risk such as:

  • people in close contact with someone with hepatitis A
  • people planning to travel to or live in parts of the world where hepatitis A is widespread, particularly if levels of sanitation and food hygiene are poor
  • people with any type of long-term (chronic) liver disease
  • men who have sex with other men
  • people who inject illegal drugs
  • people who may be exposed to hepatitis A through their job – this includes sewage workers, staff of institutions where levels of personal hygiene may be poor (such as a homeless shelter) and people working with monkeys, apes and gorillas

Hepatitis B

Vaccination for Hepatitis B is routinely available as part of the NHS vaccination program. It’s offered to all babies at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. The infection can persist for many years in children and can eventually lead to complications such as cirrhosis. You can get infected with hepatitis B if you have contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids. People at risk of hepatitis B are:

  • people who inject drugs or have a partner who injects drugs
  • people who change their sexual partners frequently
  • men who have sex with other men
  • babies born to infected mothers
  • close family or sexual partners of someone with hepatitis B
  • anyone who receives regular blood transfusions or blood products, and their carers
  • people with any form of chronic liver disease
  • people with chronic kidney disease
  • people travelling to high-risk countries
  • sex workers
  • people who work somewhere that places them at risk of contact with blood or body fluids, such as nurses, prison staff, doctors, dentists and laboratory staff
  • prisoners
  • families adopting or fostering children from high-risk countries

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C has caused epidemics in parts of Asia and Africa and is endemic in China. About a third of the world’s population has been infected with Hepatitis C at one point in their lives, including 350 million who are chronic carriers. I have received 2 vaccinations for this virus over the past 20 years because of my love of ‘off the beaten track’ travel adventures, along with anti-typhoid and yellow fever shots.

With modern treatments, it’s usually possible to cure the infection, and most people with it will have a normal life expectancy. It’s estimated around 215,000 people in the UK have hepatitis C. You can become infected if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person – such as the infamous case of the founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, after a blood transfusion.

Hepatitis C often doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. This means that many people have the infection without realising it. The symptoms, which are sometimes mistaken for another conditions, are:

  • influenza-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling tired all the time
  • loss of appetite
  • tummy (abdominal) pain
  • feeling and being sick

If we don’t diagnose and treat the hidden cases of hepatitis around the world, millions will suffer the consequences. This World Hepatitis Day, get involved in the campaign to find the “missing millions” of undiagnosed Hepatitis carriers, starting here.

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Catch up with Lucy Sherry’s previous blog posts

June 2018 – Blog on Carers Week; 11-17 June 2018
May 2018 – Blog on Stay Healthy, Stay Walking
April 2018 – Blog on Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM)
March 2018 – Blog on the Importance of Good Oral Health
February 2018 – Blog on World Thinking Day – 22nd February
January 2018 – Blog on Losing Weight with The High Calcium Diet
December 2017 – Blog on World AIDS Day 2017
November 2017 – Blog on Antibiotic Resistance – Causes, consequences and how you can help
We’ve been nominated for Employer of the Year!
October 2017 – Blog on Why Eating Curry is Good for Your Health
September 2017 – Blog on Challenge the Stigma of Dementia
August 2017 – Blog on Road Victims Awareness Month – August 2017
July 2017 – Blog on Group B Strep Awareness Month
June 2017 – Blog on Brain Food!
May 2017 – Blog on Why Eating Less Meat Could Help Save the Planet!
April 2017 – Blog on the EWG’s Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen
March 2017 – Blog on Going Sugar-free this Lent
February 2017 – Blog on Antibiotics in Animal Feed & the Rise of the Superbug; 1 Reason Why I was Vegetarian!
January 2017 – Blog on Alcohol; a harmless social escape or a dangerous poison?
December 2016 – Blog on Our annual Christmas binge & January famine!
November 2016 – Blog on Battling Stress at Work
October 2016 – Blog on The Taboos About Men’s Mental Health

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