World Hepatitis Day 2019 – Why we need to find the millions

Today marks the 12th World Hepatitis Day (WHD), which is an opportunity to raise awareness for over 300 million people worldwide living with viral Hepatitis, currently unaware and consequently undiagnosed, leading to an estimated number of 1.34 million deaths a year. Because of that, the core theme for WHD this year is to ‘Find the Millions’ which focuses on raising awareness, as Hepatitis commonly does not have any signs or symptoms, encouraging individuals to get tested, strengthening prevention and influencing a greater global response towards treatment

Hepatitis, commonly known as viral Hepatitis, is a group of viral infectious diseases that span between 5 types, Hepatitis A to Hepatitis E. It is one of the most common diseases and is known as the second most killer infectious disease after tuberculosis and affects millions of people worldwide. When left untreated, viral Hepatitis B and C in particular, can cause major health challenges such as liver cancer and disease. 

Types of Hepatitis

Hepatitis TypeTransmission of Disease
AObtained from ingestion of the virus via contact with food and/or drink or close contact with an infected person.
BTransmission from infected mother to her offspring, through contact with blood and body fluids, sharing needles and syringes, unsterilized medical equipment and sexual contact between infected individuals.
CThis is also obtained by infection similar to Hepatitis B.
DObtained through contact with infected blood. This type of Hepatitis only occurs by contracting it from people who are infected with Hepatitis B.
EThis is mainly obtained from contaminated drinking water. It has less severe consequences as it typically clears within 4-6 weeks and therefore there is no specific treatment.

To help raise awareness, we compiled a selection of Open Access articles published within our journals with a focus on the prevention and control of Hepatitis E, antiviral therapy, an automated diagnostic method of detecting Hepatitis B, treatment of Hepatitis, how diabetes can influence Hepatitis and a case report that looks into a potential relationship between chronic HBV infection and hepatitis.

A review article with a focus on Hepatitis E published in BioMed Research International, ‘Hepatitis E: Update on Prevention and Control’ discusses that more research is required to highlight the importance of preventive vaccination and treatment globally, specifically when dealing with Hepatitis E infection.

Automated Diagnosis of Hepatitis B Using Multilayer Mamdani Fuzzy Interference System’ published in Journal of Healthcare Engineeringintroduces a new diagnostic method in which an automated system is able to interpret the different stages of Hepatitis B, with the option of no Hepatitis, acute HBV or chronic HBV. The research article presents a detailed analysis of the results using the system with medical expert opinion collected from the Pathology Department of Shalamar Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. The accuracy of using the ADHB-ML-MFIS system was found to be 92.2%.

A research article titled ‘Treatment Outcomes of Hepatitis C-Infected Patients in Speciality Clinic vs. Primary Care Physician Clinic: A Comparative Analysis’ published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice investigates the outcomes of treatment of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) using oral direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), and considers whether it differs between speciality and primary care physician (PCP) clinics.

The next article is an Editorial, ‘Chronic Viral Hepatitis and Metabolic Syndrome/Cardiovascular Risk’ published in Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatologywhich discusses and explores the relationship between chronic viral Hepatitis B and C, and liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Furthermore, the influence of Type II Diabetes (T2DM) on Hepatitis patients, how it affects patients with liver disease and the effects of DAA therapy are also discussed in this article.

A case report involving the association of Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) with chronic HCV infection in ‘A Case of Acute Autoimmune Hepatitis Superimposed on Chronic Hepatitis B Infection’ published in Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine, studies a 30 year old male with no past medical history who was found to have chronic HBV infection and elevated immunoglobulin levels. The chronic HBV infection is thought to have triggered AIH which is an uncommon chronic liver inflammation with an unclear aetiology. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has committed to the main goal of eliminating Hepatitis by 2030 and a lot of progress has been made including the application of effective vaccines, having more accessible treatment for Hepatitis B and a cure for Hepatitis C and developing diagnostic methods. However, as there are still many millions being left untreated, it is paramount to continue the global reach for hepatitis awareness, increase testing and access to treatment.

Jaspreet Nijjar is Publishing Editor at Hindawi. This blog post is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). The illustration is by Hindawi and is also CC-BY.