Everything You Need to Know About the Disease

Hepatitis can lead to liver damage and cancer, and kills more than one million people each year. Of the five types of hepatitis, hepatitis B and C cause the most disease and death. Hepatitis C is curable; however, only 21% of people with hepatitis C infection are diagnosed and only 13% receive curative treatment.

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Only 10% of people with chronic hepatitis B are diagnosed, and only 2% of those infected receive life-saving medicines.

Regarding World Hepatitis Day, which is celebrated on 28 July, Coosalud EPS Epidemiologist Enrique Mazenett talks about what the date stands for, Vaccination strategies and programs facing Colombia, how to prevent them, and warning symptoms that must be considered.

(Also read: Hepatitis B: How did this virus give rise to liver cancer?)

Why is this date important?

World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to strengthen the international fight against hepatitis, encourage action and engagement, and highlight the need for a larger global response.

How is Colombia doing with regard to strategies to prevent and combat hepatitis?

The Ministry of Health and Social Protection has included hepatitis C testing in health promotion and maintenance pathways, offering hepatitis C testing to people with risk factors such as blood transfusion history before 1996, people over 50 years old, or those who have had unprotected sex, and Provide hepatitis B testing to all pregnant women etc. In terms of prevention, hepatitis B vaccination is being strengthened.

(Also read: What is novel acute hepatitis and what are its symptoms?)

Since 2021, the Ministry and the resource management agency of the General System of Health and Social Security (Adres) have been centrally purchasing hepatitis C treatment for patients under the subsidy and contribution system and administering it accordingly. By way of EPS.

Treatment for hepatitis C is very effective with few side effects. Of patients who received the full 12 weeks of treatment without interruption, more than 95% were cured.

What kind of disease is this?

Viral hepatitis is a group of diseases caused by different viruses that affect the liver. Viruses have different routes of transmission, on the one hand water, food, on the other hand blood transfusions, sharing needles, tattoos or sexual relations in unsafe conditions, depending on the virus.

The virus can damage the liver, causing serious illness and even death. In some cases, they may cause liver cancer. Many times hepatitis is asymptomatic, so you can be infected and pass it on to others without knowing it.

(Also read: First case of acute hepatitis of unknown cause detected in Colombia)

What precautions can be taken to avoid it?

To prevent hepatitis, keep the following in mind:

Which symptoms should trigger an alarm?

Most cases are asymptomatic. In some people, the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes may have a yellow tint; yellow urine and white stools.

(Also read: Conditional detection of childhood hepatitis cases in Colombia)

Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E…most common in Colombia, why?

Hepatitis A is the most common, and the virus that causes it is spread through water and food and is so easily spread that most people are exposed to it before the age of 12. Most cases have no symptoms and usually resolve on their own.

This is followed by hepatitis B, which is highly contagious and is transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood and bodily fluids. The third, hepatitis C, is also transmitted through blood and sexual intercourse. It may have appeared in people who received blood transfusions before 1996, the year the virus began to be found in blood bags. Viruses D and E are rare.

(Also read: Over 1,000 cases of unexplained hepatitis in children)

What does the hepatitis vaccine do?

Vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B are currently available. Both vaccines are very effective in preventing the spread of the disease and reducing the number of cases. In Colombia, the hepatitis B vaccine has been given regularly since 1993, so people born after that date are protected. It also applies in a special way to health personnel and high-risk groups. Since 2013, the hepatitis A vaccine has been included in the Expanded Immunization Program.

(Also read: U.S. authorities call for removal of barriers to hepatitis care)

The biggest protagonist of this appointment is the liver. How can I take care of it besides having or not having any type of hepatitis?

Here are a few things you can do to protect your liver:

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