July 28th is World Hepatitis Day
The World Health Organization marks July 28th as World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about people who live with this condition. July 28th is the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925 – 2011) who discovered the Hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first vaccine. Viral hepatitis causes more than one million deaths year. Deaths from hepatitis are currently increasing
According to the World Health Organization approximately 900,000 people globally die from one of the forms of hepatitis every year. As many as 325 million people live with the disease. Many millions of people also may be unaware they have a strain of hepatitis. Only 42% of children globally have access to the Hepatitis B vaccine. These are the strains of hepatitis that are most likely to cause long term health damage, or even death.
Hepatitis is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver which can in some cases be fatal. There are five main strains of the hepatitis virus, A, B,C, D and E. While they all cause liver disease, they differ in means of transmission, severity, geographic distribution and prevention methods. Types B and C lead to chronic illness in hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Some types are prevented through vaccination.
Liver damage can result in inflammation, and in more serious cases, a condition called fibrosis which can manifest itself in the form of scarring. In more serious cases, there may be complete liver failure.
During the current pandemic, and with the restricted access to medical services that so many Georgians are currently facing, persons suffering from hepatitis or liver disease may be at even greater danger. They may not have access to the kind of treatment they require. Further, immunization of infants which is one of the major priorities in the battle against hepatitis, may also be affected during the pandemic. These are concerns addressed during World Hepatitis Day.