Did you know that both hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be transmitted through blood-to-blood contact – but hepatitis B is commonly transmitted through unprotected sex as well? Also, there is a vaccine available for only one of these forms of hepatitis. Do you know which one it is? (Answer: hepatitis B)
Because these “silent” infections may not cause symptoms for years, hepatitis B and C are the focus of World Hepatitis Day, which takes place tomorrow, July 28th, and is sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA). (There is another form of this viral infection called hepatitis A, which is typically transmitted through contaminated food or drinking water.)
The reasons for greater awareness are stark: the WHO estimates that two billion people have been infected with the hepatitis B virus and approximately 240 million people are living with chronic liver infections. Approximately 600,000 people will die every year from the consequences of hepatitis B. In addition, there are around 150 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C worldwide, and more than 350,000 die each year from related liver diseases, according to the WHO.
Despite these alarming figures, hepatitis remains poorly understood, and the majority of those infected are unaware. Should their infections become chronic, people living with either hepatitis B or C are at risk for serious liver complications, including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. In some cases, a liver transplant may be required.
You can learn firsthand about these conditions and their complications from our hepatitis patients at PatientsLikeMe. As of today, 88 patients report hepatitis B, while 299 patients report hepatitis C. In addition, 522 patients have undergone a liver transplant to replace a diseased liver.
If you haven’t been tested for hepatitis – or you want to know more about the hepatitis B vaccination – talk to your doctor at your next visit. If you’re living with chronic hepatitis, we invite you to join our supportive community today.