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 5 types of hepatitis viruses – A, B, C, D and E. All hepatitis viruses can cause acute infection and inflammation of the liver, but infection with hepatitis B, C and D viruses can also result in chronic hepatitis that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Viral hepatitis B and C are major health challenges and root causes of liver cancer. In the WHO European Region, 15 million people are estimated to live with chronic hepatitis B and 14 million 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; improving prevention by promoting vaccination, safe sex and safe injection practices; and ensuring equitable access to testing and treatment to all who need it.
World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to step up national and international efforts on hepatitis, to encourage actions and engagement by individuals, partners and the public, and to highlight the need for a greater global response.