52 Weeks to Health: Week 29, World Hepatitis Day

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World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is recognized annually on July 28th, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011), who discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first hepatitis B vaccine. Worldwide, viral hepatitis is among the top 10 infectious disease killers with more than one million people dying each year. These deaths are primarily from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In fact, chronic hepatitis B and chronic hepatitis C cause approximately 80% of the world’s liver cancer.

Many of those who are chronically infected are unaware of their infection. People can live with chronic viral hepatitis for decades before having symptoms or feeling sick. So even though a person has no symptoms and may appear healthy, damage to their liver can still be occurring.

Viral hepatitis is caused by infection with one of five viruses – hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. All hepatitis viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, and chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is a major global health threat with around 240 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and up to 150 million people living with chronic hepatitis C.

In order to raise awareness of this hidden epidemic, the World Health Assembly designated July 28th as World Hepatitis Day.

The good news is hepatitis A and hepatitis B can be prevented with safe, effective vaccines. Unfortunately there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C so testing and treatment are the only current options. Hepatitis C can be cured today with medication.

In 2012, CDC started recommending Hepatitis C testing for everyone born from 1945 – 1965. While anyone can get Hepatitis C, up to 75% of adults infected with Hepatitis C were born from 1945 – 1965.

On a separate note, it is important to point out that Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest states in our nation; but, a few healthy lifestyle choices could change this. First, eating normally proportioned helpings of nutritious foods including at least five fruits and vegetables a day can lower weight and reduce heart disease and diabetes. Second, exercising about 30 minutes per day can lower blood pressure. Third, avoiding the use of tobacco products can reduce several types of cancer. Finally, making sure you get your needed preventive screenings can detect diseases early and greatly increase your chances for a positive health outcomes, while receiving your recommended vaccinations can prevent acquiring disease in the first place.

Don’t forget to visit our website at www.LCDHD.org and fill out your wellness profile for a chance to win $1,000.00.

Press Release: Week 29 – World Hepatitis Day.pdf