Charity Calls for Increased Attention to Hepatitis B on World Hepatitis Day in Light of Progress with Hepatitis C

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 07:17 pm

World Hepatitis Day has been marked by the British Liver Trust and the World Hepatitis Alliance to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis. According to a survey conducted by the World Hepatitis Alliance, 42% of people globally are unaware of viral hepatitis as a leading cause of liver cancer, and it is estimated that only 19% of those affected by hepatitis B in the UK have been properly diagnosed.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy at the British Liver Trust, has said: “With more than 200,000 people in the UK affected, with the majority unaware of their condition, shining a spotlight on hepatitis B becomes essential to achieve the same progress made in combating hepatitis C.”

She continued: “Currently, there is no absolute cure for hepatitis B, but effective treatments can reduce the risk of the virus developing into a more serious liver condition.”

Most people living with hepatitis B in the UK were born in a country where the virus is more common, and are at risk of contracting the virus through any type of sex without a condom, or getting a tattoo or piercing with unsterilised equipment.

Amanda, who was diagnosed with Hepatitis B in 2019, said: “I’d never heard of Hepatitis B until I was diagnosed, and it was a really, really dark time for me. What worries me is that so many other people are stuck in that darkness too. The important thing to remember is that it can affect anyone, and more than anything I want people to get tested.”

The British Liver Trust is calling for increased awareness of hepatitis B, improved testing and diagnosis rates, and for people to take the Trust’s simple questionnaire to find out if they are at risk. The Trust also aims to tackle stigma, and expand access to treatment and care.

On World Hepatitis Day, the British Liver Trust and the World Hepatitis Alliance are working to raise awareness of the pressing issue of hepatitis B and its risk factors. This preventable and treatable disease is estimated to claim a life every 30 seconds globally. In the UK, progress has already been made in combatting hepatitis C, with a 47% decline in cases between 2015 and 2021. However, with only 19% of those affected by hepatitis B in the UK having received a proper diagnosis, there is still more to be done.

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