July 2014

Viral hepatitis,
a major health issue

Hepatitis is a viral disease that can cause liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 400 million people who have this chronic virus, but most of them do not know that. This is a highly contagious illness which affects people all around the world.

Anne-Lise Boissiere
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Paris - France


The vaccine is probably the best way to prevent getting infected with normal hepatitis
Photo: Projects Abroad Gallery

On July 28th, World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) will organize for the fourth time World Hepatitis Day (WHD). This day was launched in 2011 in response to the concern of global health and especially of chronic viral hepatitis. The date of July 28th corresponds to professor Baruch Blumberg’s birthday, who received a Nobel Prize for his discovery of Hepatitis B. This day is a very good way to make people aware of the importance and the severity of this illness. This is also an opportunity for everyone to know what is going on all around the world and the actions to prevent this illness and fight it.

Organized in partnership with the WHO, this day aims to change and improve access to prevention and treatment. There are indeed so many people who do not have access to prevention and who cannot seek any treatment. Most of them do not even know that they are sick because of the low level of awareness. Hepatitis is often ignored or misunderstood, that is why it is important to make people change their opinion and their attitude towards it. Therefore, this year the theme of this campaign is “think again,” which means think in another way about viral hepatitis.

There are many ways to participate in this day. All around the world events take place with concerts, press briefings, and fundraising events; millions of people take part in these events. You can also become involved through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook or may donate to an organization such as the WHO. Since everyone is concerned everyone should do something.

Viral hepatitis is a major health problem in every continent. This is a silent illness that can cause inflammation of the liver. There are five types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, and E; equally contagious to all people, and they can have the virus without knowing it. That is why it could be really dangerous and in some cases it can be fatal (especially for hepatitis B and C). Each year about one million people die because of this viral infection, according to GAVI alliance. They mostly die of liver cancer.

Make people aware of the importance and the severity of this illness

While the five types of hepatitis cause liver disease, they are significantly different in terms of control, diagnosis, and treatment. They all can be transmitted through contaminated food and water (especially raw vegetables and uncooked fruits), sex practices, blood, semen, and body fluids. Hepatitis B and C can also be transmitted by a mother at the time of birth. So, some people have the virus since their birth but they are unaware of it. It can be benign for children whereas it could be extremely dangerous for adults. In many cases, in the beginning there are no visible symptoms. However, when the symptoms are triggered, between 15 and 50 days after contamination, it causes fatigue, fever, and abdominal pain at the beginning. Then it evolves and the color of the skin becomes yellow, urine can become dark, and the virus attacks the liver.
While a blood test is the only way to diagnosis hepatitis, there are many ways to prevent it. First of all, it is important to be careful of the food you eat and live healthily. Although there are vaccines, which is the best way to prevent the viral hepatitis, most people do not vaccinate. WHO recommends vaccination at birth and since 2010 it is mandatory in 179 countries around the world.
However, there is a real problem of lack of awareness and knowledge in some countries. There also is a paradox because in developed regions like in North America or Europe there is a low rate of infection and most people are aware of the illness and are vaccinated. In regions like South Asia and Africa, principally in countries where there is poor hygiene infrastructure, there is a high rate of infected people but most of them are unaware of their situation and the consequences. They do not have access to testing, prevention, and treatment. Only a few people are vaccinated against hepatitis.

There is a real problem of lack of awareness and knowledge in some countries

The vaccine is probably the best way to prevent getting infected with normal hepatitis, but for hepatitis C there is no vaccine. Some alternatives or solutions exist to fight this viral hepatitis. There is no medication for hepatitis B. Doctors recommend only to get some rest, eat healthy food, and drink a lot. After a few months, about 90% of affected adults clear the virus but only 10% of children do the same. The other 90% may have liver failure or liver cancer. Liver transplantation is a possible treatment for chronic hepatitis B, but it is a very complicated surgery and with high risks for the patient. Moreover, it is not easy to find a liver donor and treatment is expensive, hence, the transplant is not common in all countries. Hepatitis C is now a curable illness, but all people affected do not receive treatment. It depends on the degree of liver disease: if it is high, then treatment is considered. The therapy that people have to go through is not really hard and can save about 50% of the patients. They have to take some drugs but not go to the hospital. Obviously, in some countries people do not have access to treatment.

The vaccine is probably the best way to prevent getting infected with normal hepatitis

To make prevention and treatment available to everyone it will require considerable effort, but it is possible thanks to organizations such as WHO and WHD. It is important to strengthen competencies for diagnosis and treatment. The rate of awareness is increasingly high while the rate of contamination decreases each year.

Calendario JULIO 2014

> LUNES DE CINE FRANCÓFONO
- Versalles
Lunes 7 -19h

- Camille regresa
Lunes 14 - 19h

- Mujeres de el Cairo
Lunes 21 - 19h

- Ser y tener
Lunes 28 - 19h

> Presentación de la exposición:
“Le co ntour du son”
De Orlando Alandia, cuadros elaborados sobre soporte rígido con técnica mixta.
Ingreso Libre

Del 1 hasta el 8 de julio
9:00-12:00/15:30 -19:30
Sábado: 9:00-12:00

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