I said last week that there were several of my Dates of Note coming up. Here’s the next one: World Hepatitis Day, which is tomorrow.
World Hepatitis Day was launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance in 2008 , and is one of only four official World Health Organisation disease-specific days each year. It takes place on 28th July every year and provides an international focus for patient groups and people living with viral hepatitis, or Hep B and Hep C as you may have heard them called. There are two main themes for World Hepatitis Day 2013: ‘This is Hepatitis. Know it. Confront it,’ which has been used since 2010, and ‘See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil’, as shown by the three wise monkeys above. The first theme and the supporting posters are intended to shock us into a greater understanding of hepatitis, while the second relates to an old proverb, which basically means that people deal with problems by refusing to face up to them. The symbolism here is that hepatitis is still a widely ignored disease. Since the launch of World Hepatitis Day thousands of events have taken place around the world, which have generated much interest, but much still needs to be done to educate about an illness which is much more common than I thought, until I did a little research for this piece.
Hepatitis can lead to further illnesses, including liver disease and even cancer. I was horrified to find that nearly 500 million people worldwide have either chronic hepatitis B or C. This is much higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, but awareness is incredibly low and the majority of those infected are unaware that they have the disease – statistics show that only about 12% know. More than 1 million people are affected every year, of whom 90,000 are classed as chronic. These figures scare me! I think we all need to learn more.