28th July is World Hepatitis Day, an opportunity to step up our efforts on hepatitis, encourage more actions, and engage individuals.

Viral hepatitis — a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E — affects millions of people worldwide, causing both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) liver disease. Viral hepatitis causes more than one million deaths each year. Hepatitis B and C are the most concerning and cause nearly 8000 new infections every day, which are mostly going undetected.

It is crucial to understand what is causing hepatitis in order to treat it correctly. Timely testing and treatment of hepatitis B and C can save lives. Left untreated, hepatitis B and C can lead to liver cancer. Contaminated needles can transmit hepatitis B and C. Eating contaminated food and water can cause hepatitis A and C.

Someone living with a chronic form of hepatitis, like hepatitis B and C, may not show symptoms until the damage affects liver function. By contrast, people with acute hepatitis may present with symptoms shortly after contracting a hepatitis virus.

Common symptoms of infectious hepatitis may include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, dark urine, pale stool, and abdominal pain.

Treatment options will vary depending on the type of hepatitis and whether the infection is acute or chronic. There are also vaccines that can help protect against many hepatitis viruses.