Notts County Council is marking World Hepatitis Day (Monday 28 July) by reminding residents of the dangers posed by viral hepatitis, and the reasons that might have put people at risk of contracting it.
Viral hepatitis is one cause of liver cancer (the second biggest cancer killer), and although it is less common in the UK than in many places around the world, it still poses a risk to those who may have contracted it.
Both hepatitis B and hepatitis C are blood borne viruses, so transmission occurs when infected blood from one person enters the blood stream of another.
Those infected may not know it because sometimes there are no symptoms. If untreated, hepatitis B and C can lead to liver disease and premature death.
It’s important that individuals who have been at high risk of acquiring hepatitis B or C get a test, so that they can access treatment.
As hepatitis is often misunderstood, the County Council is using World Hepatitis Day to establish the facts about the most common types of hepatitis:
Viral Hepatitis – did you know?
- There are different viral hepatitis groups; A, B, C, D and E
- Viral hepatitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the liver caused by a viral infection - it should not be confused with alcoholic hepatitis which is caused by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time
- Viral hepatitis kills 1.5m people each year worldwide
- Hepatitis B and C often have no initial symptoms, so individuals need to understand if they are at risk of developing the disease.
Could you have been at risk?
- Many people with chronic hepatitis B in the UK acquired the infection overseas at birth or during childhood in a country with high prevalence. While risks for acquiring hepatitis B in the UK include those who have multiple sexual partners or those who inject drugs.
- In the UK most chronic hepatitis C infections are in people who have injected drugs. even if it wa sonly only once or a long time ago. In addition, people born in countries where there is a high prevalence of hepatitis C are also at increased risk. High prevalence countries include several in the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent.
Jonathan Gribbin, public health consultant in Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Infection with hepatitis B or C can have severe long term consequences. The best way to avoid infection is to avoid risky behaviours such as injecting drugs or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
“Treatments are available, so it is essential that anyone who thinks they may have been at risk, even if it was a long time ago and even if they don’t have any symptoms, should seek advice from a doctor or health professional. For some people at high risk of hepatitis B, a vaccine is available which can provide protection.”
The Council is also currently in the process of producing an assessment of local health needs relating to two of the most common types of viral hepatitis: hepatitis B and C.
For further information on Hepatitis, visit:www.worldhepatitisalliance.org.