World Hepatitis Day
Every year on 28 July, WHO and partners mark World Hepatitis Day to increase awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes. This date honours the birthday of Nobel Laureate Professor Baruch Samuel Blumberg, discoverer of the hepatitis B virus.
There are five main strains of viral hepatitis - types A, B, C, D and E. All hepatitis viruses can cause acute and chronic infection and inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Hepatitis B and C together constitute a major burden of disease in the WHO European Region, with 13.3 million people estimated to live with chronic hepatitis B and 15 million people with hepatitis C. Most of these people are unaware of their infection and continue to carry the virus. They are therefore at high risk of developing severe chronic liver disease and can unknowingly transmit the virus to other people. Efforts to fight viral hepatitis should focus on raising awareness of the disease and preventing it from spreading further. This means in particular promoting vaccination, safe sex and safe injecting practices.
Every year, World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions, including:
- strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;
- increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programmes;
- coordinating a global response to viral hepatitis.