More than 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C worldwide. Every year, 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis, which causes inflammation of the liver.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), awareness and understanding of hepatitis can help eliminate the disease and save 4,000 lives a day.
In 2010, WHO declared July 28 World Hepatitis Day.
Vaccines exist for hepatitis A, B and E, although the vaccination for E isn’t widely available.
Hepatitis A is transmitted mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.
The body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks.
Hepatitis B is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. It can be passed from mother to child during childbirth.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, reduce chances of exposure by avoiding sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors.
Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. No vaccination exists for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood and only found in people who are already infected with hepatitis B. No effective antiviral therapy exists for hepatitis D, making it even more important to be vaccinated for hepatitis B.
Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.
Click here for more information on the different types of hepatitis and preventive measures.