World Hepatitis Day — July 28th
Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer worldwide. Approximately 1 in 12 persons, or around 500 million people, have chronic viral hepatitis and most of them do not know they are infected.
World Hepatitis Day is July 28th
World Hepatitis Day is recognized annually on July 28th, the birthday of Dr. Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011). Dr. Blumberg discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and two years later developed the first hepatitis B vaccine and for these achievements won the Nobel Prize.
Hepatitis viruses can cause inflammation of the liver, chronic viral hepatitis infection can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is a major global health threat with around 350 million people living with chronic hepatitis B and around 170 million people living with chronic hepatitis C.
In order to raise awareness of this hidden epidemic, the World Health Assembly and the President of the United States have designated July 28th as World Hepatitis Day.
Organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC, are using the 2nd annual World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of the problem and what needs to be done to strengthen efforts in prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis.
Viral Hepatitis: A Global Perspective
One million people die each year from chronic viral hepatitis. These deaths are primarily from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
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 among the top 10 infectious disease killers. Both chronic Hepatitis B and chronic Hepatitis C cause approximately 80% of the world's liver cancer.
Chronic Hepatitis B
The Hepatitis B virus is common in many areas across the world, especially Asian and African countries.
The Hepatitis B vaccine remains our most effective tool for the prevention of Hepatitis B. Implementation of routine vaccination for Hepatitis B has drastically decreased rates of new infection in some areas of the world. Yet despite the success of the Hepatitis B vaccine, only about 1 in 5 infants globally receive the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth, which is necessary to prevent mother's infected with hepatitis B from spreading it to their newborns.
Chronic Hepatitis C
Many advances have occurred in the last decade that have drastically changed the prevention and control of Hepatitis C. A rapid test for Hepatitis C has now been developed and is available in Europe and the U.S. New treatments for Hepatitis C were approved by the FDA in 2011 that have been shown to reduce treatment time and also increase the number of people who are able to clear the virus.
Unfortunately there is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis C, but research is being done to develop one.
Viral Hepatitis in the United States
Viral hepatitis is a major health issue around the world, including in the United States. Since many people with chronic hepatitis often do not have symptoms until serious liver damage has occurred, testing for hepatitis is crucial.
Are you at risk? Find out if you should be tested or vaccinated for viral hepatitis by taking CDC’s 5 minute online Hepatitis Risk Assessment.
Please join @CDChep, and our guest the Hepatitis B Foundation, @HepBFoundation, on July 27th at 2pm EST for a live twitter chat to discuss hepatitis B topics and available resources to educate and raise hepatitis B awareness around the world. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #WHDchat.
- CDC Viral Hepatitis webpage
- CDC’s online Hepatitis Risk Assessment
- World Health Organization (WHO) – World Hepatitis Day
- World Hepatitis Alliance – World Hepatitis Day
- WHO. Viral hepatitis: report by the Secretariat, March 2010. [PDF - 45KB]
- Presidential Proclamation 2011-World Hepatitis Day
- Follow DVH's Twitter account @CDChep for information about World Hepatitis Day.
- Get viral hepatitis email updates from CDC through GovDelivery