Every 30 seconds, one person in the world dies of a disease caused by hepatitis.
The United Nations wants to largely contain the various forms of viral hepatitis by 2030, but to achieve this, diagnosis and treatment must be improved, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said ahead of World Hepatitis Day on Wednesday.
This year, the motto of World Hepatitis Day is “Hepatitis can’t wait.” The WHO is calling on governments to campaign to get more people tested and treated.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can lead to severe liver disease and liver cancer.
There are five different types of viral hepatitis, from A to E. They are triggered by viruses that are not related to each other.
The pathogens are transmitted through contaminated food in the case of A and E, or through blood and sexual contact in the case of B and C. Hepatitis D only develops in people who have hepatitis B.
Hepatitis B and C are the most widespread and one of the main causes of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
According to WHO estimates, 354 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis B or C. Three million people become infected every year, and 1.1 million people die from it.
Although the diseases can be cured, there is a problem with diagnosis: According to WHO estimates, in 2019 only 21 per cent of people with chronic hepatitis C knew they were infected, and for hepatitis B it was only 10 per cent.
Because people at high risk of infection, such as some drug users and men who have sex with men, tend to be harder for health services to reach, WHO is advocating the provision of self-tests for hepatitis C.
In a new manual, it recommends how and where such tests can be given and helpers trained to use them.