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“Education is the most powerful way to change the World”

Nelson Mandela

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

What makes hepatitis a global health problem?

Viral hepatitis is the 7th leading cause of death globally, accounting for 1.4 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS or malaria. Together, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) are the leading cause of liver cancer in the world, accounting for 80% of cases. Viral hepatitis is not found in one location nor amongst one demographic, it affect millions of people without them even being aware. Resulting in the real possibility of developing fatal liver disease at some point in their lives and unknowingly transmitting the infection to others.

With the availability of vaccines for hepatitis A, B and E, effective treatments for hepatitis A and B and a cure for hepatitis C, the elimination of viral hepatitis achievable, but we need to come together to make it happen.

KNOW
THE
STATS

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1.4 million deaths per year

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95% of people living with viral hepatitis aren’t aware

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Less than 1% of people living with viral hepatitis receive treatment

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4,000 deaths per day

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380 million people infected

The five different hepatitis viruses…

Transmission:
Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Prevention:
There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Treatment within a few weeks of exposure to the virus can also bring short term immunity. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

Treatment:
As hepatitis A only causes acute hepatitis, the body is often able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks. However, hepatitis A infections can sometimes cause further complications.

Transmission:
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.

Prevention:
There is a vaccination that can prevent infection. If you have not been vaccinated, to reduce chances of exposure it is best to use condoms, and to avoid sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treatment:
Drugs such as alpha interferon and peginterferon and a variety of antiviral drugs are available which slow the replication of the virus and occasionally result in its clearance. Children born to mothers infected with hepatitis B should also be vaccinated within 12 hours of birth, as this can prevent an infection that will most likely progress to chronic hepatitis B.

Transmission:
Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practices and during childbirth.

Prevention:
There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk of exposure, by avoiding sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treatment:
Treatment for chronic hepatitis C aims to eradicate the virus. It often involves a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin, and there is increasing use of potent direct acting antiviral drugs, with and without interferon. People with different genotypes respond differently to treatment, some more successfully than others.

Transmission:
Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood.

Prevention:
Hepatitis D is only found in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. People not already infected with hepatitis B, should get the hepatitis B vaccination. To reduce exposure, avoid sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treatment:
Conditions may improve with administration of alpha interferon, however no effective antiviral therapy is currently available for hepatitis D.

Transmission:
Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.

Prevention:
Currently there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis E, but it is not widely available. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.

Treatment:
There is no treatment for hepatitis E. However it is usually self-limiting.

Issues in Hepatitis

Hepatitis is one of the most prevalent and serious infectious conditions in the world, affecting millions of people. Because of its different transmission routes and outcomes, it spans across a range of issues.

Harm-Reduction

Harm Reduction

Globally, 67% of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C and in some countries it is as high as 97%. Yet, global coverage of harm reduction programmes for people who inject drugs, including needle and syringe programmes, is less than 10%.

Join NOhep to ensure that by 2030, each person who injects drugs has access to at least 300 sterile needles and syringes per year.

Access to medicines

Globally, less than 1% of people living with viral hepatitis receive life-saving medication.

Join NOhep to ensure that 80% of people living with viral hepatitis are receiving treatment in 2030.

Access-to-Medicines
Diagnosis

Diagnosis

Worldwide, only 5% of people living with a cancer causing illness are aware, largely due to the disease being mostly asymptomatic and the lack of routine screening. The result being for many, a missed opportunity to access the highly effective treatment that can stop them succumbing to liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Join NOhep to ensure 90% of people living with viral hepatitis are aware of their condition that by 2030.

Blood Safety

39 countries still don’t do routine testing of blood, greatly increasing the chances of spreading the virus.

Join NOhep to demand that all countries screen blood donations.

Blood-Safety
Immunisation

Immunisation

Effective vaccines exist to prevent viral hepatitis B, a silent killer chronically infecting approximately 250 million people. At the moment, only 38% of infants receive birth-dose vaccinations.

Join NOhep to ensure 90% of babies will receive life-saving birth dose vaccinations by 2030.

HIV/AIDs and hepatitis coinfection

Today it is estimated that approximately 15% of people living with HIV are infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, resulting in a global burden of over 5 million.

Join NOhep to demand better screening and access to treatment.

Coinfection
Injection-Safety

Injection Safety

Worldwide, injections are the most frequent medical procedure in the world today and yet nearly half of these injections are unsafe.

Join NOhep to demand safe healthcare.

Liver cancer

Each year, more than 800,000 people die from liver cancer, of which 80% is caused by viral hepatitis.

Join NOhep to demand better screening.

Liver-Cancer
Sanitation

Sanitation and access to clean water

Globally, 748 million people lack access to a safe source of drinking water and 2,500 million people, more than one third of the global population, live without basic sanitation facilities leading to increase chance of contracting hepatitis A.

Join NOhep to demand access to safe water and sanitation facilities.

If you would like to share materials on the above issues please send them to connect@NOhep.org

Data and 2030 targets have been taken from WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, 2015.

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Get involved because NOhep is

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