Today is World Hepatitis Day!

Around 150,000 people live with hepatitis B or C in New Zealand and many of those people are undiagnosed.

As today is World Hepatitis Day, Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand CEO Susan Hay says it is important to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and encourage people to get tested if they are at risk.

“Viral hepatitis is known as a ‘silent’ disease because people can live with the virus for decades before noticing symptoms. Often by the time people are diagnosed their liver has already been significantly damaged,” says Ms Hay.

Hepatitis remains the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplantation in the world.

Are you at risk of viral hepatitis?

Hepatitis B risk factors:

  • Has a mother, household member or close family member living with hepatitis B
  • Born before 1987 when a vaccination programme was introduced in New Zealand
  • Have ever injected drugs (even once)
  • Received a tattoo or piercing using unsterile equipment
  • Were born outside New Zealand
  • Had unprotected sex with someone living with hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C risk factors:

  • Have injected drugs (even if only once)
  • Have received a tattoo or body piercing using unsterile equipment
  • Lived or received medical attention in a high-risk country (South East Asia, China, Eastern Europe (including Russia), or the Middle East)
  • Had a blood transfusion or received blood products prior to 1992
  • Have ever been in prison
  • Were born to a mother living with hepatitis C.
How is it spread?

Hepatitis B causes inflammation of the liver and is spread through blood-to-blood contact and bodily fluids.

Hepatitis C causes inflammation of the liver and is spread through blood-to-blood contact.

About the Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand

The Hepatitis Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation which provides care for people living with hepatitis B through a long-term follow-up programme. Through this programme, the Foundation provides monitoring and follow-up for more than 25,000 people in New Zealand.

The Hepatitis Foundation no longer operates a Hepatitis C Follow-up Programme as patient services are now managed by regional DHBs (District Health Boards). If you think you have hepatitis C or would like to access treatment, please contact your local GP. However, if you have any questions about hepatitis C or need someone to talk to you can call our helpline on 0800 30 20 10.

About World Hepatitis Day

In 2010 the World Health Organization made World Hepatitis Day one of only four official disease-specific world health days. Millions of people across the world now take part in World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs and government action.

Facts:

World Hepatitis Alliance

  • Worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C.
  • Viral hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death globally, accounting
    for 1.4 million deaths per year – more than HIV/AIDS, or TB, or malaria.
  • In 2010 the World Health Organization made World Hepatitis Day one of only four official disease-specific world health days, to be celebrated each year on the 28th July.
  • Millions of people across the world now take part in World Hepatitis Day, to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, and to call for access to treatment, better prevention programs and government action.

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© The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand 2016