Raising Awareness about World Hepatitis Day

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World Hepatitis Day is July 28th, and the the World Hepatitis Alliance has begun a campaign to end hepatitis across the world. According to the World Hepatitis Day website, this disease is currently the world’s 8th biggest killer. While to date there is not an absolute cure for most forms of hepatitis, this disease is easy to prevent by taking a few simple precautions.

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What is hepatitis?

“Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is caused by a few specific viruses, types a, b, c, d, e, f (not confirmed), and g. The most common hepatitis viruses are types a, b, and c. A, by oral secretions and stool. B, sexual conduct, blood (tattooing, piercing, transfusions). C, sharing needles, transfusions. D, same as b. Up to 1/3 of cases have unknown source..” – Dr. Rick Kirschner

What is hepatitis A?

“Hepatitis a is a liver infection that will make you miserable for awhile with nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea , jaundice. There is no consequences or chronic forms however. So it’s not much worse than your trivial stomach bug with vomiting/ diarrhea for a couple of days.” – Dr. Olga Nilova

What is hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b is a virus that tends to infect the liver in humans. Transmission from person to person is by intimate contact (sexual activity) or blood exchange. There is a readily available blood test to see if you have it, and there is a vaccination available (3 shots over 6 months) to prevent you from ever getting it. Hepatitis b can lead to chronic infection and cirrhosis, possibly cancer.” – Dr. Colin Kerr

Is there a cure for hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b virus gets into the nucleus of liver cells, and its genetic information replicates when the liver cell does. So far, we don’t know how to get that dna out of liver cells. Fortunately, many people are able to completely control hepatitis b with their own immune systems. If not, doctors may decide to put people on antiviral medications to stop the hepatitis b from making copies of itself.” – Dr. Camilla Graham

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How is hepatitis C transmitted? Is it an STD?

“One can catch hepatitis c from an infected person by getting the infected person’s blood into oneself by activities such as: sharing needles during drug abuse, accidental needle-sticks, being born to a hepc+ mother, sharing razors or toothbrushes, or having sex. Transmission of hepc virus during sex can happen, but is uncommon, so hepc is usually not called an std.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

“Theres a lot of excitement surrounding several new medications for hep c genotype i. The most exciting is solvaldi (sobosbuvir) in combination with ledipasvir. Its not yet fda approved but we anticipate it being marketed within the next 12 months. Its a once daily tablet. The cure rate is 90% plus. This is an interferon free regimen. This will revolutionize the treatment for hep c.” – Dr. Dominic R. Riganotti

Are hepatitis vaccines important?

“Hepatitis A and B are now routine vaccines in the USA. If you are traveling abroad it is important to get protected. In some areas of the world Hepatitis A is very common. Simply by traveling there you are at risk of becoming infected. Frequent travelers (especially to China), humanitarian aid workers and adventure travelers should get the Hepatitis B vaccine. See your doctor for further advice.” – Dr. Sarah Kohl

Who should get vaccinated?

“The hepatitis a and b vaccines are very good vaccines, in that they are very safe and provide good protection against a couple of serious liver diseases. Everyone should get the vaccines as soon as they are eligible, which is at birth for hepb vaccine and at about 18 months for hepa vaccine.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

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How can I prevent a viral hepatitis infection?

“The best way to prevent viral hepatitis is to know the risk factors. For hepatitis a and b, there are vaccines which are effective at preventing acute infection. For hepatitis c, there are no current vaccines, so knowing that this can be contracted by sharing needles, blood transfusions and blood exposure, taking care to avoid these activities is advisable.” – Dr. John J. Fung

 

 

For more questions about hepatitis, ask our HealthTap doctors today!