World Hepatitis Day - July 28
World Hepatitis Day (WHD) is recognized every July 28th, the birth date of Dr. Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967, and developed the first vaccine in 1969. These achievements led up to Dr. Blumberg winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976.
Organizations worldwide commemorate World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, which impacts more than 354 million people worldwide. It also creates an opportunity to educate people about the burden of these infections, promoting testing for all five types of the disease.
Hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases (known as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E) that attack the liver and affect people all over the globe, causing both acute and chronic liver disease.
Viral hepatitis causes more than one million deaths each year. While deaths from tuberculosis and HIV have been declining, deaths from hepatitis are increasing.
How is Hepatitis B Spread?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluid infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. People can become infected with the virus from:
Birth (spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth)
Sex with an infected partner
Sharing needles, syringes, or drug preparation equipment
Sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors, or medical equipment (like a glucose monitor) with an infected person
Direct contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
Exposure to an infected person’s blood through needle-sticks or other sharp instruments
Hepatitis B is not spread through food or water, sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing, hand holding, coughing, or sneezing.
How do you Prevent Hepatitis?
While Hepatitis B is not spread through hugging and kissing, having sex with an infected partner can transmit the virus. Make sure to practice safe sex using condoms. Practice good hygiene, such as hand washing with soap and water. Do not share toothbrush, razors, and needles with anyone, including piercing and tattooing needles. Drink from bottled water while traveling (especially when traveling to countries with Hepatitis B cases). More than anything else, make sure to get vaccinated on time.
How to Take Part
Get tested on WHD because you may be a carrier of the virus and may be unaware of it completely. In fact, almost 90% of the people who have contracted hepatitis don’t realize they’re infected. It is a simple blood test that you can take at your doctor's office or at your neighborhood health center. Encourage your family and friends to do the same!
Tons of health organizations raise awareness about the virus with events on WHD, July 28th. Pop-up testings would be widely available. Check the World Hepatitis Day website to find an event near you.