Skip to main content
Home » Vaccine Awareness » Why We Need World Hepatitis Day Now More Than Ever
Vaccine Awareness

Why We Need World Hepatitis Day Now More Than Ever

Cary James

CEO, World Hepatitis Alliance

A lack of specific symptoms means 9 in 10 people living with viral hepatitis are completely unaware they have it. Undiagnosed, hepatitis B and C can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer, and premature death, yet public awareness of these so-called “silent killers” remains worryingly and life-threateningly low.

A global pact

This is a key year in the journey toward eliminating viral hepatitis as a global public health threat. In 2016, every government in the world committed to achieving the World Health Organization’s target of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. However, with just 10 years to go, only a handful of countries are on track to reach this goal. 

Despite a lack of global progress, there is hope. There is a cure for hepatitis C. There is an affordable vaccine and effective treatments for hepatitis B. We have the tools to reach elimination and transform people’s health, but we must make our resources available to everyone who needs them.

We must also find the millions of people who are unaware they are living with viral hepatitis. Otherwise, millions will continue to die as a result of a preventable, treatable, and — in the case of hepatitis C — curable condition.

Eliminating hepatitis isn’t just about eradicating an illness — it’s about achieving social justice and human rights. People living with hepatitis regularly face stigmas and discrimination that impact their health, work, and relationships. People are cast out from their communities and fear losing their jobs and opportunities for study. People are denied even basic rights — all because of their hepatitis diagnosis. 

Not only this, but the people and communities most affected by viral hepatitis are also often those most underserved by health systems. 

We cannot stand by and allow these injustices to continue. By achieving elimination, we will create a more equal world, and protect the health and rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Raising awareness

The global community comes together each year on July 28th to mark World Hepatitis Day. It is a day to acknowledge the progress that has been made toward eliminating viral hepatitis, and to pause and reflect on the millions of lives lost. It is an opportunity to increase awareness among the public, and advocate for greater political action and financial investment. 

With COVID-19 restricting people’s access to hepatitis prevention, testing, and treatment — and potentially impeding global progress toward hepatitis elimination — World Hepatitis Day has never been more important. 

Even during a pandemic, it is critical that we leverage World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of viral hepatitis online and, where safe and possible, in our communities. Everyone can get involved. 

There is a range of multilingual and customizable campaign materials available to download for free on the World Hepatitis Day website. Each time one is shared, we are one step closer to our goal. 

The elimination of viral hepatitis is within our reach — we must not allow it to slip from our grasp. Join us and we can win this fight together.

To urge governments to stand by their commitments, NOhep (the global movement to eliminate hepatitis) has written an open letter demanding immediate action to eliminate hepatitis. The letter will be sent to every government in the world. You can strengthen our global call to action by signing the letter here and sharing it with everyone you know.

Next article