The celebration of the World Hepatitis Day is coming soon this July 28th. A date created internationally as a strategy to raise awareness about the current situation about viral hepatitis and to joint efforts in the battle against this disease. We have to think in new strategies that allow us to reach the World Health Organization’s goal to eradicate hepatitis.
Stopping the spread of viral hepatitis not only concerns the governments worldwide but also the population who is in constant risk of being infected. For that reason, here we describe the needs considered of upmost importance to deal with hepatitis, emphasizing the responsibilities of different parties.
There are a lot of things that both government and general population can do for reducing hepatitis. Government has the responsibility to continually evaluate the policies and strategies implemented by health institutions. To achieve this, it is important to continuously update the statistical numbers. Knowing the exact numbers of individuals affected helps to understand the behavior of the epidemic and to identify critical control points.
Some governments wisely use the last strategy to directly make policies that rules over the most frequent transmission stages. For example, many countries only buy and distribute syringes that are auto-disabled, avoiding the possibility of being reused.
Also, the government is responsible of establishing a link between them and the population to guarantee frequent campaigns of education. Spreading information and reporting population about the situation of the epidemic and its consequences is very important.
To know how general population can contribute to stop the spread of hepatitis it is important to understand the transmission pathway of each of the different hepatitis viruses.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and Hepatitis E virus (HEV) are orofecal pathogens. The infection with them is correlated with the direct viral ingestion through contaminated food or drink. It is important to be aware about the source of the things we eat or drink. Sometimes fruits, vegetables and other uncooked foods, are in contact with contaminated water. The same happens with some sea products like shellfish or shrimps. We need to be careful not only with the correct clean of products but also on their cooking procedure. Also, it is important to wash our hands before eating or handling food or right after we use the bathroom, HAV and HEV could be present in surfaces and we can get infected by our own hands.
Most Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Hepatitis D virus (HDV) transmissions are through the contact with blood and other body fluids from an infected person. This contact can be direct or can occur through contaminated objects like personal items, needles or syringes. Because of this reason is of upmost important to:
Be aware of needles. If we are visiting the barber or getting a piercing it is important to know the sanitary controls of the instruments used during the procedure.
Avoid sharing personal objects like toothbrushes, nail files or razor blades. We have a high probability of getting infected by contaminated body fluids present on the surface of the objects.
If we are receiving blood transfusions, we have to be sure that it was correctly tested for HBV, HCV and even for other pathogens like HIV.
Use protection during intercourse if the partner has a chance of infection.
Additionally, knowing the family history of hepatitis is very important. In some cases, it is unknown that a member of the family has hepatitis leads as other family members to acquire the disease. We need to understand how vaccination can help us to prevent hepatitis transmission. Currently, there are available vaccines to HAV and HBV. Unfortunately, no vaccines against HCV has been developed until now.
Stopping the spread of hepatitis is our combined responsibility. Raise awareness about how this epidemic is affecting the world, families and individuals. Everybody has a responsibility, it is a personal duty to know which it is.