World Hepatitis Day (WHD), 28 July, is a day when the world joins together to drive action, to transform the lives of 300+ million people and to play a part in the fight to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.
The elimination of viral hepatitis has now been firmly put on the map. At the 69th World Health Assembly in Geneva, 194 governments adopted WHO’s Global Strategy on Viral Hepatitis, which includes a goal of eliminating hepatitis B and C in the next 13 years. The community responded by launching NOhep, the first ever global movement to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.
On WHD 2017, we can build on this momentum and accelerate progress towards achieving the goal of elimination by 2030. Reference: http://www.worldhepatitisday.org/en/2017-campaign
This year Lancet Laboratories is focusing on Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B (HBV) is a DNA virus belonging to the Hepadnaviridae family. There are ten known genotypes (designated A to J) which vary in their geographical distribution. Genotype testing is not routinely required. HBV genotype does not influence the virological response to any of the nucleoside or nucleotide analogues, and the HBV vaccine protects against all genotypes. Genotypes A and D are the most prevalent genotypes detected in South Africa.
HBV is a global problem, especially in developing areas. It is most commonly spread by percutaneous or mucosal exposure to body fluids including blood, saliva, semen and vaginal fluid. HBV can survive for long periods of time on environmental surfaces. Approximately one-third of the world’s population have been infected with HBV, with approximately 250 million chronic infections. An estimated 2.5 million South Africans are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus.
The outcome of infection depends on the age of the patient when they are infected. In immunocompetent adults < 5% become chronic carriers, whereas > 90% of perinatally-infected infants will develop chronic disease. Despite the availability of an effective HBV vaccine, the rate of HBV related hospitalisations, cancers and deaths continue to rise. Approximately 20% to 30% of patients with chronic infection will develop liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma after an average of 3 decades, and more than 650 000 people die annually due to chronic hepatitis B infection (CHB).