The 28th of July is designated as the World Hepatitis Day, on the occasion of this event, in an effort to inform and raise the awareness of people all over the world.
Hepatitis is a serious public health problem. It is estimated that 260 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis B and 72 million with hepatitis C.
In Greece, about 400 thousand people suffer from chronic hepatitis B and C.
Hepatitis is defined as an inflammation of the liver. The liver can be infected with hepatitis viruses, which are classified mainly in types A, B, C, D and E, while there are other viruses as well, such as the infectious mononucleosis virus that can also cause hepatitis.
The most common types of hepatitis are B and C; they are the ones that mainly fall into a chronic condition and require special treatment.
Hepatitis A is mainly related to hygiene and it is transmitted through contaminated water or food; the symptoms it causes are milder than other viral hepatitis. A vaccine is available.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through the blood and other fluids of the human body, sexual intercourse, and causes both acute and chronic hepatitis. The symptoms are more severe than HAV, causing cirrhosis or even hepatocellular carcinoma. A vaccine is available.
Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through exposure to an infected person’s blood; intravenous drug users are likely to transmit the virus, health professionals are exposed to needle misuse, while transmission through contaminated blood transfusions have also been reported. There is no vaccine available.
The tests performed to check for hepatitis are: for HBV, the Australian antigen or HBsAg, while a biopsy can be performed in chronic hepatitis to assess the severity of liver damage.
As regards hepatitis C, there is a test to detect antibodies to HCV virus, known as antiHCV.
For the treatment of chronic hepatitis B, 3 drugs are used, interferon A, lamivudine and adefovir.
In the treatment of hepatitis C, interferon A and ribavarin are used, with very good results in the attempt to eradicate the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a goal to eradicate viral hepatitis by 2030, a program in which our country has joined, with optimistic results so far.