On World Hepatitis Day, the Hepatitis Foundation International calls for a dramatic scale up in viral hepatitis testing to reduce liver cancer deaths worldwide
SILVER SPRING, MD | 28 July 2016 – The theme of this year’s World Hepatitis Day, ‘Elimination of Viral Hepatitis’, explores how everyone – together or as individuals – can do their part to eliminate viral hepatitis.
Lack of awareness at an individual, community and government level, is cited as one of the main reasons for perpetuating the global burden of viral hepatitis. Less than 5% of people living with viral hepatitis worldwide are aware of their condition, largely due to the disease being mostly asymptomatic and the lack of routine screening. The result for many is a missed opportunity to access a highly effective treatment that can stop them succumbing to liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Each year, an estimated 24,000 people die from liver cancer in the United States (U.S.), of which the large majority is caused by viral hepatitis. These deaths are completely preventable if people are aware of their infection and have access to the appropriate treatment.
Viral hepatitis, which affects many in the U.S., is an inflammation of the liver caused by a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis B and C. An estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million people have chronic hepatitis B and more than 3.2 million have chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person and approximately 240 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic infections. Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact such as unsafe injection practices and inadequate sterilization of medical equipment.
“People have the right to know if they are living with a cancer-causing virus” stated Ivonne Fuller Cameron, President & CEO of HFI, “On World Hepatitis Day, we are calling on governments to take responsibility by scaling up on hepatitis testing services and providing treatment to reduce needless deaths. The HFI has contacted Embassies and the African Union as first steps.”
World Hepatitis Day is one of only four official disease-specific world health days recognized by WHO. World Hepatitis Day was launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance in 2008 in response to concern about the lack of priority for hepatitis as a global killer and became an official WHO day in 2010 at the 63rd World Health Assembly.
At the World Health Assembly in May, the United States joined governments across the world to adopt the WHO Global Viral Hepatitis Strategy and commit to increased diagnosis to 90% by 2030. The U.S. also committed to an overarching goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030, which will save millions of lives globally.
To mark World Hepatitis Day, the Hepatitis Foundation International together with the World Hepatitis Alliance, and a large number of civil society organisations celebrate the launch of “NOhep”, the global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis. NOhep aims to unite those working in the field of hepatitis and others from across the
world around one common purpose: the elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030.
“Scientific innovation is leading to unprecedented opportunities in care for affected individuals across the globe. HFI is continuing its commitment to improve care for historically underserved communities”, stated Dane Christiansen, Vice Chair, Board of Directors. NOhep is calling on individuals and organisations across the world to sign-up to be part of the next greatest achievement, the elimination of viral hepatitis. Sign up and watch the video here: www.NOhep.org
“Join HFI today, on World Hepatitis Day, to call on governments to take the first step towards eliminating hepatitis by scaling up hepatitis testing and treatment services”, said Karen Wirth, HFI
Board Chair. “Only then we will have a world with “NOhep”. Visit HFI’s website to learn more on how to become an advocate or peer mentor through our HepC Chat and make your voice heard.
About the Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI)
HFI is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization established in 1994 to eradicate viral hepatitis for 550 million people globally. HFI is also dedicated to increasing and promoting health and wellness, as well as, reducing the incidence of preventable liver-related chronic diseases and lifestyles that negatively impact the liver. Some of these diseases include obesity, diabetes, hepatitis, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease and liver cancer. We implement our mission through our touchstones to educate, prevent, serve, support, and reach well over 5 million patients and health care professionals annually.
The World Hepatitis Alliance
The World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) is a patient-led and patient driven non-governmental organisation (NGO). With over 230 member patient groups from 81 countries, WHA provides global leadership to drive action to help eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. Their aim is to work with governments, members and other key partners to support and elevate patient voices, to raise the profile of viral hepatitis and to help establish comprehensive hepatitis strategies which have robust prevention measures and access to affordable diagnostics and treatment. http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/