Photo by Bruce Wetzel, Harry Schaefer, via Wikimedia Commons
28th July is World Hepatitis Day. This year is particularly special as The World Health Organisation will deliver its Global Elimination Strategy for Viral Hepatitis, outlining the goal of eliminating the threat viral hepatitis by 2030.
Viral hepatitis is curable. Hepatitis B can be prevented and hepatitis C can be treated. Better still, they can be avoided.
Hep. B and Hep. C can both be transmitted by exposure to infected blood and body fluids, most commonly through unprotected sex and through the sharing of injecting equipment. Although live virus can be found in saliva and breastmilk, kissing, sharing utensils, and breastfeeding do not lead to transmission unless these fluids are introduced into open sores or cuts.
Most simply, we can avoid exposure quite easily:
Always practice safe sex. This means using condoms.
If you use needles, whether for medical reasons or for drug use, NEVER use another person’s injecting equipment EVER. This does not just mean needles. This means syringe barrels, spoons, tourniquets, filters, EVERYTHING!
Always clean the injection site with a fresh alcohol swab.
Never re-use used needles, even your own. Full injecting kits can be picked up free-of-charge from local needle exchange programmes.
Always dispose of used needles safely in a needle bin, taking full needle bins to your local needle exchange programme for safe disposal. Nobody wants to see people hurt by carelessly discarded needles!
By considering these ‘rules’ we can all play a part in a future where viral hepatitis is a distant memory.
For more information on World Hepatitis Day and events in your area, visit: http://worldhepatitisday.org/