Today is World Hepatitis Day. While many would think this is just another day, this is actually the beginning of an exciting new campaign launched by the World Health Organization to end viral hepatitis (VH) by 2030.
Viral hepatitis is a growing problem in the world today with as many as 10 million people becoming newly infected each year. But, viral hepatitis seems to be the one STD that many people forget about. We’re about to give you some reasons why it should be on your radar, and how, if you have it, it doesn’t mean you have a death sentence.
Viral Hepatitis in Monroe County, IN
In December 2015, a public health emergency was declared for Monroe County due to a large outbreak in Hepatitis C transmission. The main cause for the outbreak was intravenous drug use. As a result, the syringe exchange program was started in an effort to reduce the spread of Hep C.
According to the Monroe County Health Department, approximately 230 new cases of Viral Hepatitis were reported in 2015, with about 120 of those actually confirmed by testing.
Hepatitis C has no vaccine but for Hepatitis A and B, there are vaccines available to prevent contraction of the disease. The vaccine is recommended for children and teens age (7-18). Ideally, the vaccine should be given prior to being sexually active in order to prevent the transmission of the virus.
If you get tested regularly for STDs, great!
But Hepatitis isn’t actually included in most standard STD tests, so it actually requires a separate test.
Below are two places where you can receive free or low-cost Hepatitis vaccines and testing in Monroe County:
Monroe County Health Department Futures Family Planning Clinic
Indiana University Health Positive Link
Viral Hepatitis: Treatment & Prevention on a Global Scale
Only approximately 5% of these newly infected individuals are aware that they have VH and a shocking <1% are actually seeking treatment.
With the advances in vaccines and effective treatment methods, this doesn’t have to be the reality of today. More can be done when people realize the severity of this problem and take steps to prevent it from occurring.
Each year 1.4 million people die from VH, which is more than the most often feared malaria, tuberculosis, or even HIV/AIDS. Also, viral hepatitis does not discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or economic status.
If you have Hepatitis C, all hope is not lost. Medical advancements have made it possible to control the disease so you can live a long and productive life.
In order to combat this growing epidemic of viral hepatitis, the World Health Organization has planned to launch a global campaign to eradicate VH by 2030. If governments can reach this set of testing and treatment targets, this will evoke a massive change.
- 90% of infants will receive a hepatitis B birth dose vaccination.
- All blood donations will be screened.
- 90% of people will have access to safe injections. 90% of people will be aware of their illness.
- 80% of people infected with VH will be treated.
So, how can you help? Spread the word! Educate people on how viral hepatitis is a serious disease and that they need to get tested for it.
A short educational video on the campaign can be found at http://www.nohep.org/ where viewers can also find out how they can contribute to the movement to end viral hepatitis.
Information provided courtesy of NPR, World Health Organization, and other sources.