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Provider’s Weigh-In: Prevent Hepatitis: It’s Up to You

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

World World Hepatitis Day is July 28th. To acknowledge this, we want to raise awareness about the virus and how to be safe from it. Viral hepatitis is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. This disease has many different forms, the most common being hepatitis B and C which frequently lead to chronic infection. Every day, 4,000 people die from viral hepatitis. Dr. Sean Koppe says, "Many people are unaware they have viral hepatitis and do not become symptomatic until their liver disease is very advanced. Screening can identify patients before they develop advanced disease and excellent treatment options exist for both chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Additionally, a very effective vaccine exists for prevention of hepatitis A and hepatitis B". Knowing the facts about hepatitis can help save lives.

  • 400 million people are infected worldwide
  • Hepatitis causes 80% of liver cancer deaths
  • Hepatitis C is ten times more infectious than HIV
  • 67% of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C
  • 240 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B. There is a vaccine for this.

PREVENTION: The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated but unfortunately there is currently no effective vaccine for hepatitis C. Hepatitis B and C are transmitted through contaminated blood or bodily fluids. Therefore, avoid sharing toothbrushes, razors, drug using equipment, and unprotected sex.

SCREENING: Testing for hepatitis is quick, simple blood test and recommended for those at risk for hepatitis B or C. If you have not been tested, come to your doctor at UI Health and ask if you should get screened for hepatitis. Knowing if you are infected can potentially save multiple lives.

TREATMENT: New hepatitis C treatments cure 90-95% of patients. Highly effective treatment also exists for hepatitis B. For some strains of hepatitis, the only treatment is hydration and rest.

Dr. Koppe weighs in with the following tips:

  • Vaccinate your children against hepatitis
  • Make sure you are vaccinated
  • If you have not been vaccinated, get tested for hepatitis
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Seek out treatment if necessary

Hepatitis, like many other sicknesses, is easier to prevent than to treat. Do not wait, get vaccinated or tested at UI Health.

SOURCES: all facts and statistics courtesy of the World Hepatitis Day website and Mayo Clinic