Unless you get tested, you just don't know your status.
Worldwide, it is believed 300 million people are living with a form of viral hepatitis, but are unaware of it. On July 28, 2019, people around the world will acknowledge World Hepatitis Day in an effort to raise awareness about viral hepatitis, so that the undiagnosed can be identified and linked to care.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver. It's commonly caused by a viral infection, and each of the five types of hepatitis (A, B, C, D and E) is caused by a different virus.
Hepatitis A is an acute, short-term disease, while types B, C and D are likely to become chronic or ongoing conditions. Hepatitis E is usually acute, but can be very dangerous for pregnant women. There are safe and effective vaccines that can prevent hepatitis A and B, but not for types C, D, or E.
In Canada, Hepatitis C is an especial concern. It is estimated that one out of every 100 Canadians has had hepatitis C in their lifetime, and many are unaware they have it. Many people with hepatitis C have no symptoms or have symptoms that could be mistaken for other ailments. Left untreated, hepatitis C, like other forms of the disease, can lead to a damaged liver, liver cancer and liver failure.
The Canadian Network on Hepatitis C, a network of Canada's leading Hepatitis C experts, just launched the
Blueprint to Inform Hepatitis C Elimination Efforts in Canada. The document focuses on the importance of testing and on the cure of Hepatitis C.
The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with blood from an infected person - by sharing equipment used to prepare and inject drugs, through unsafe medical injections and other medical procedures. Most people who get infected with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, a significant number of these people will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Those identified as being the most at risk of living with an undiagnosed Hepatitis C infection are persons born between 1945 and 1975.
With new treatments, over 90 per cent of people with hepatitis C can be cured within few months, reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. The first step for people living with hepatitis C to benefit from treatments is to get tested and linked to care.