World Hepatitis Day is observed on 28 July every year to raise awareness and act globally on the prevention of viral hepatitis. The key goal of this health day is to promote knowledge of the different forms of hepatitis and how they are transmitted, reinforce prevention, screening, and control of viral hepatitis, and improve exposure to hepatitis B vaccine and its incorporation into national immunization programs and organise a global response to eliminate hepatitis.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and there are five main types of the disease including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. While hepatitis B and C are known to cause chronic ailment in more than millions of people worldwide and form the most common reasons for liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and viral hepatitis-related mortality. This health event marks the birth anniversary of the famous physician Dr Baruch Blumberg, who discovered the hepatitis B virus in 1967 and invented the first hepatitis B vaccine in the year 1969.
World Hepatitis Day 2022

Every 30 seconds a person loses his life due to a hepatitis-related illness and this health campaign offers a great opportunity to get people's focus on the need of knowing their hepatitis status and to spread the word about treatment.

According to the statistic reports 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 296 million people globally are surviving with hepatitis B, 58 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis C, 1.5 million people were newly diagnosed with chronic viral hepatitis B and 1.5 million people were newly affected with chronic hepatitis C.

The alarming fact is that both hepatitis B and C can lead to enduring infection. Also, WHO reports reveal that 1.1 million mortality happened in 2019 owing to these lethal infections and their aftermath includes liver cancer, cirrhosis, and other chronic problems.

Hepatitis A and E infections do not cause chronic infection but can be very serious and can lead to liver damage and death. It was also observed that outbreaks of these viral infections happen globally, specifically in regions with poor hygiene and sanitation.

Also Read: World Hepatitis Day: Act Now To Eliminate Hepatitis - Infographic

Significance Of World Hepatitis Day

The theme for World Hepatitis Day is “Bringing hepatitis care closer to you”, which works to highlight the need to simplify and bring hepatitis care to primary health amenities, community-based regions, and locations beyond the hospital premises, such that the care reaches closer to all the people and communities wherever they live.

The new Global Health Sector Strategies, corresponding to HIV, viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted infections for the time frame 2022-2030 stresses the need for person-centred care and support of systems and a combination of services to reach the goal of elimination by 2030. To attain hepatitis elimination at least 60% of people living with hepatitis B and C must be diagnosed promptly and 50% entitled to treatment must be cured (hepatitis C) or should be getting treatment (hepatitis B) by 2025.

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And for this to happen, those people in need must be reachable to hepatitis services and care that are readily accessible and reasonable, efficient, timely and of satisfactory quality.

5 Key Actions To Safeguard One Against Hepatitis Include:

  • Always use sterile injections
  • Use your own razors and blades
  • Practise safe sex
  • Go for safe tattooing and piercing equipment
  • Get infants vaccinated against Hepatitis B

As we all know that vaccination for hepatitis is an important tool for prevention. Further, screening is an essential tool for prompt detection and treatment, as it can avert serious illnesses like cirrhosis and liver cancer and impede the spread of this lethal infection. Read this article to get an overview of the hepatitis panel test.

Also Read: World Hepatitis Day 2020: Types, Ways To Prevent Viral Hepatitis And The Importance of Vaccination

What Is A Hepatitis Panel?

A hepatitis panel is a group of blood works that determine whether you have a viral hepatitis infection presently or had one in the past. Further, this test may also reveal if you are immune to certain types of hepatitis since you had a vaccination.

This includes tests for hepatitis antigens and antibodies:

  • Hepatitis antigens are elements in the hepatitis virus that trigger off the immune system to attack the virus
  • Hepatitis antibodies are proteins that the immune system produces to support combat a hepatitis infection
  • Hepatitis antigens and antibodies can be observed in the blood even if a person doesn’t show any symptoms of an infection

Purpose Of The Test

This test helps to find out if a person has an active hepatitis A or B infection and is also used to rule out if one had ever been affected with hepatitis C. However, the test cannot reveal the difference between a past hepatitis C infection and an infection one has now. If the hepatitis panel reveals that a person has hepatitis, then they generally need more blood works to learn in detail about the condition.

Who Needs A Hepatitis Panel?

A person may need a hepatitis panel if he was exposed to someone with viral hepatitis or if they exhibit symptoms of hepatitis. Though hepatitis doesn’t always cause symptoms when it does, it may include:

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Pale coloured stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhoea (with hepatitis A only)

The healthcare provider may suggest a hepatitis panel if a person has an abnormal result on a liver profile or if he has a high risk of developing a viral hepatitis infection. The risk of getting infected may be high if you:

  • Are in close contact with someone infected with viral hepatitis
  • Have shared needles to use drugs
  • Have a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • On long-term dialysis
  • Health care, daycare or public safety workers
  • Had an organ transplant or a blood transfusion
  • Have travelled to regions with a lack of safe drinking water and poor sanitation

What Happens During A Hepatitis Panel?

The technician will collect a blood sample from a vein using a small needle and transfers it into a test tube vial. You may feel a slight sting when the needle goes in and out and it usually takes less than 5 minutes.

How To Prepare For The Test?

You don't require any specific preparations for a hepatitis panel.

Risks Of The Test

There is very minimal risk of having blood work. You may feel slight pain or bruise at the spot where the needle was inserted, and it would settle away quickly.

What Do The Results Mean?

A negative or normal result denotes that you almost certainly don't have a hepatitis infection.

A positive or abnormal result may mean that you have a viral hepatitis infection now or had one in the past.

Further, for hepatitis A and B test results would mean whether a person currently has or had an infection in the past or if he had immunity because of vaccination.

If the test results show that you have signs of hepatitis C, then you will need a further test to rule out if you are infected now or had an infection in the past. As there is no vaccination available for hepatitis C. You may require additional tests to confirm a diagnosis and see how hepatitis had affected the liver. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have any queries about the results.