World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is held every July 28th. This is a holiday dedicated to the awareness of hepatitis, a common viral disease of the liver. The purpose of World Hepatitis Day is also to fight for testing and treatment in developing countries, where many of these health resources are lacking. It is a global event to remind everyone in all regions that hepatitis can affect anyone.

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by three different viruses. This disease is classified as either: hepatitis A (HAV), hepatitis B (HBV), or hepatitis C (HCV). HAV is transferred between infected persons, as well as through contaminated drinking water. It is also the least dangerous form of hepatitis, as it usually causes short-term symptoms that mimic those of the flu. HBV is spread through blood and body fluids, and its effects can last for the rest of your life. Eventually, you can develop scars or cancer of the liver. HCV only spreads through infected blood, and is most commonly transferred through birth, drug use, and blood transfusions. Its consequences are just as dire as HBV.

Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can lead to life-threatening consequences. Without a functioning liver, the body cannot properly digest food or remove toxins. When caught early, all forms of hepatitis may be treated with antiviral medications. In the cases of HBV and HCV, however, there is no guarantee that your body will fully recover. The best way to prevent hepatitis is to get vaccinated.

History of the Holiday

Vaccines are commonplace in many countries, but hepatitis continues to be a global problem. About one-third of the world’s population has been exposed to at least one of the hepatitis viruses at some point during their lifetimes. HBV and HCV are of particular concern. In recent decades, the prevention of other serious illnesses, such as HIV, have become prominent; the downside is a lot of focus has been spent on other diseases, leaving hepatitis as one of the forgotten health problems in modern day societies.

The World Hepatitis Alliance decided to form a holiday to raise awareness about this serious liver disease. In 2008, the organization created the first World Hepatitis Day on July 28th. Just two years later, the United Nations officially recognized this holiday.

Increasing Awareness

While World Hepatitis Day helps to celebrate the lives and recognize the struggles of patients with the associated liver disease, the core of the holiday lies in awareness about hepatitis. The World Health Organization remains actively involved every year to help campaign for the events of July 28th. Literature about hepatitis is distributed throughout the global community on the Internet. In addition, local governments often recognize the holiday by offering free tests as well as educational seminars.

Every year, there is a theme for World Hepatitis Day. For 2013, the theme is: “This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it.” Another previous theme for the holiday was “Get Tested.” Until global rates of hepatitis subside, there is much work to be done by the way of awareness. Organizers of World Hepatitis Day hope that one day there will be enough understanding to help decrease severe cases of this liver disease once and for all.