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World Hepatitis Day

  • 5-19-2010
  • Categorized in: News

The third annual World Hepatitis Day will take place on Wednesday 19 May 2010, as part of an ongoing campaign launched by the World Hepatitis Alliance in 2008.  An entirely patient-led initiative, World Hepatitis Day aims to raise awareness of hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as extend the political support for the diseases to levels seen in HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.  The long-term objective of the World Hepatitis Day campaign is to prevent new infections and to deliver real improvements in health outcomes for people living with hepatitis B and C

To diagnose hepatitis B the blood needs to be checked for the HB surface antigen (HBsAg).  The HBs antigen is a part of the virus and will usually appear in your blood six to twelve weeks after infection.  If the test is positive, you have hepatitis B. In that case, your doctor should conduct further tests to check if your hepatitis B infection is new or old, if it is harming your body or not, and if you need treatment or not. If you have naturally cleared the virus, or if you have been vaccinated against hepatitis B, you will have antibodies to hepatitis B (anti-HBs). Your body made these to destroy the virus. It is good to have anti-HBs, because that means you are protected against future infection by the hepatitis B virus.

For hepatitis C, your doctor will first check for HCV antibodies (anti-HCV). If the test is positive, this means you either have the virus now, or have had the virus and cleared it. Hepatitis C antibodies usually take seven to nine weeks to appear in your blood after infection. If your immune system is weakened (e.g. by HIV) your body may take longer to produce HCV antibodies, or it may not produce any at all. If the first test is positive, your doctor will then test for the virus itself (HCV RNA). If this is positive, you have hepatitis C.

If you are diagnosed with hepatitis B or C you will face many challenges, but it is better to confront the disease head on, know how to avoid transmitting the infection to others and consider your treatment options and self-management strategies as early as possible.


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