Starts like flu: The illness millions don’t know they have
A FRIGHTENING number of people in the world don’t know they have some form of hepatitis.
While many cases are diagnosed, there are many cases that are not, leading health authorities to urge people to look out for symptoms and get checked.
In the Wide Bay region, there have been a number of hepatitis diagnoses this year so far including two for newly acquired hepatitis B and four for unspecified hepatitis B.
There have been 18 newly acquired cases of hepatitis C, and 60 unspecified cases.
There has been no hepatitis D diagnosis.
Worldwide, 290 million people are unknowingly living with viral hepatitis.
Today is World Hepatitis Day and the Cancer Council Queensland is calling on the community to spread awareness of the disease.
Hepatitis is an inflammation and infection of the liver and the three main types are hepatitis A, B, and C.
In Australia, hepatitis B and C infection is one of the significant risk factors for primary liver cancer. Primary liver cancer is the fastest-growing cause of cancer death and, and the incidence is increasing more quickly than other cancers.
A person may show no symptoms and can unknowingly live with the virus which can develop into liver cancer over time.
The theme for 2020 World Hepatitis Day is “find the missing millions”, where across the globe people are encouraged to take action to reduce the burden of hepatitis on our communities.
Hepatitis B and C is commonly transmitted through an exchange of bodily fluids, such as unprotected sex, sharing personal items, and blood sharing through items such as needles.
If symptoms are experienced, these are often in the form of regular flu-like symptoms, however progressed liver damage and can result in symptoms such as jaundice, abdominal pain, confusion, blood in excretion.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan urged all Queenslanders to raise awareness this World Hepatitis Day.
“The hepatitis B vaccine was firstly introduced in 1982 and became the first vaccine to be recognised for its ability to prevent cancer in humans,” Ms McMillan said.
“Since the introduction of the vaccination program, there has been a general decline in overall hepatitis B.
“To reduce the rates, it is important that as a community we increase our awareness and understanding of hepatitis and liver cancer, particularly among high risk groups.
“There needs to be coordinated and targeted actions to help reduce the prevalence of hepatitis B and C and its future burden of liver cancer.”
To find out more about World Hepatitis Day, please visit, www.worldhepatitisday.org.
For more information on Cancer Council Queensland, please visit, www.cancerqld.org.au.