Published: Friday, 24 July 2020 10:17
World Hepatitis Day is marked on the 28th of July every year. This year the theme of the day is ‘find the missing millions. It is estimated that there are 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis worldwide that are unaware that they have the condition. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the “missing millions”.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are both viruses in your blood that can badly damage your liver. Viruses in the blood are also known as blood borne viruses. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are some of the most common blood borne viruses in the UK.
How you catch Hepatitis
You can catch Hepatitis in several ways:
- Sharing needles or other drug related items
- Tattooing or piercing with dirty equipment that hasn't been sterilised
- Sharing a toothbrush, razor or hair clippers - hepatitis C can stay on them for 4 days
- Rough or anal sex with someone who has hepatitis
- Medical or dental tools that haven't been sterilised properly
- Injuring yourself on a hypodermic needle
Most cases of hepatitis C in the UK involve people who have injected drugs, including anabolic steroids. Other items, such as spoons or pipes, can also spread hepatitis if they've been in contact with infected blood. Hepatitis C can survive for 63 days inside a syringe. It's also 6 times more likely to be transmitted than HIV. Hepatitis B is very infectious, and can also be spread through sharing needles. It can survive outside the body for up to a week, so you can even catch it from dried blood.
The symptoms of Hepatitis
Hepatitis B: With hepatitis B, often there aren't any symptoms, or you might feel like you have a mild flu. The virus can disappear without you ever noticing. Sometimes, people have more serious symptoms and need to go to a hospital. These include jaundice, where the skin turns yellow, and diarrhoea.
Hepatitis C: With hepatitis C, sometimes people have no symptoms, or have mild symptoms for a few weeks, including fever, tiredness, no appetite, and vomiting. People can live with hepatitis C for years or decades without knowing it. This can cause serious liver damage. Signs of this are jaundice, pain in the stomach, aches in your joints and muscles, itching, tiredness, and memory problems. If it's not treated, it can even lead to liver cancer.
Vaccination for Hepatitis
You can be vaccinated against hepatitis B. This is available to all our service users or from your local doctor if you're in an 'at risk' category. People 'at risk' include healthcare workers, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and people travelling to parts of the world where hepatitis is common.
There is no vaccination for hepatitis C.
Getting tested for Hepatitis
You can get tested for Hepatitis at the Nordhaven clinic at the Balfour Hospital. Due to the current restrictions in place due to the Covid19 pandemic Nordhaven is no longer accepting drop in patients and they ask that if you require their services that you phone in advance for a consultation on 01856 888917
More information about Hepatitis is available on the Nordhaven website at https://www.nordhavenclinic.co.uk/