Monday, July 28, 2014

World Hepattiis Day: Special Issue from AASLD News

World Hepatitis Day

By Adrian M. Di Bisceglie, MD, FACP, AASLD President

July 28th is the 7th World Hepatitis Day. AASLD makes use of this opportunity to pause and reflect on the significance of viral hepatitis, progress made so far, and future challenges. As hepatologists, we tend to focus on the common forms of chronic viral hepatitis – that is hepatitis B and hepatitis C, but we should not forget the toll of morbidity and even mortality associated with acute hepatitis A, hepatitis E, and hepatitis D.

It has been my personal privilege to have worked in the field of viral hepatitis for more than 30 years now and I have been witness to incredible changes and progress. Following the discovery of the hepatitis B virus in 1965, a safe and effective vaccine was developed and had been widely deployed by the end of the 1980s. The last ten years have brought several highly potent and effective antiviral drugs to the market, so that now we can legitimately claim that we can control hepatitis B through vaccination and therapy. Work is already underway to try and develop new agents that might eliminate hepatitis B viral infection, not just control it.


Medicare protects you on World Hepatitis Day and every day

Did you know that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, affects millions of people worldwide, resulting in acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year?

Hepatitis is contagious. For example, the Hepatitis B virus spreads through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. People can also get infected by coming in contact with a contami­nated object, where the virus can live for up to 7 days. Hepatitis B can range from being a mild illness, lasting a few weeks (acute), to a serious long-term illness (chronic) that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Medicare can help keep you protected from some of the common strains of hepatitis: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B.

Generally, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) covers Hepatitis A shots when medically necessary.

Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers Hepatitis B shots, which usually are given as a series of 3 shots over a 6-month period (you need all 3 shots for complete protection).

There’s a third type of Hepatitis—Hepatitis C. Medicare covers a one-time Hepatitis C screening test if your primary care doctor or practitioner orders it and you meet one of these conditions:
  • You’re at high risk because you have a current or past history of illicit injection drug use
  • You had a blood transfusion before 1992, or
  • You were born between 1945 and 1965
July 28 is World Hepatitis Day. Find out how you can prevent and treat hepatitis by visiting the World Health Organization’s World Hepatitis Day web page.

Reposted from

World Hepatitis Day: Organisations call on SA government to better prevent hepatitis B infection

On World Hepatitis Day, organisations call on SA government to protect infants with Hepatitis B jab at birth & reduce patent barriers to Hepatitis B therapies.

On World Hepatitis Day, 25 organisations and individuals from around the world have called on the South African Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to address the public health threat of hepatitis, by implementing hepatitis B immunisation at birth, and reforming national patent laws to promote access to more affordable hepatitis therapies.

Hepatitis B is highly endemic in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa, where around 8% of people are chronically infected, and the rates of hepatitis B-related liver cancer are some of the highest in the world. Globally, viral hepatitis causes approximately 1.3 million deaths every year—more than either malaria or tuberculosis—with around 240 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), and 140 million people with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Either of these viruses can result in liver failure and liver cancer.



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Australia: Hep experts warn of liver danger zone

The number of Australians living in the "liver danger zone" - those over 40 with untreated hepatitis B or C - could fill a regional city.

Latest statistics show there are 250,000 such Australians and they are on the cusp of life-threatening liver damage.

"We dub this the `liver danger zone` - where middle age accelerates the impact of viral hepatitis on the liver," says Professor Greg Dore from Sydney's Kirby Institute.

"This analysis reveals that more people are living in the liver danger zone than we have in a city like Hobart.

India Has Second Highest Number of HBV Infected People

India has over 40 million Hepatitis B infected patients, second only to China, and most people with chronic Hepatitis B or C are unaware of their infection, putting them at serious risk of developing cirrhosis or liver cancer which are life threatening.

As India observes World Hepatitis Day tomorrow, the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) based in New Delhi today painted a grim picture on the prevalence of various forms of Hepatitis infections in the country and efforts to check it, saying the country's collective efforts in this field are "limited and painfully lagging behind".

Every year, nearly 600,000 patients die from HBV infection in the region but the government does not yet have national policies relating to screening and referral for Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, it said.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Public Health Popularity Contest: Why You've Never Heard of Hepatitis B

One thing that AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis all have in common is their deadliness. AIDS killed 1.47 million people in 2010. But did you know that viral hepatitis (hepatitis B & C combined) killed 1.44 million that same year?

Monday is World Hepatitis Day
I walked into the first day of my internship ready to take on what I thought were the major public health crises of the world – malaria, AIDS, avian flu. Instead, my supervisor gave me a hefty stack of literature on hepatitis B. Sure, as a premed student I knew that hepatitis had something to do with the liver, but I was shocked to find out that hepatitis B was the most common serious liver infection in the world—one that chronically affects over 350 million people worldwide, including 1 in 12 Asian Americans—and I had never heard of it.

As a 21-year old Asian American who is passionate about global health, I felt cheated to only now discover that there is an infectious disease disproportionately affecting my community. Somebody should have told me about this! To then find out that it was completely vaccine-preventable – somebody should have told everyone about this!

About halfway through my internship, I found out that my grandfather died from viral hepatitis that he contracted through a blood transfusion. Suddenly the disease had a face, and it was a smiling man with wide rimmed glasses who used to sit me on his lap and feed me popcorn. It now feels like my duty to spread the word.

Read more....

Fake Hepatitis testing kits in Kenya drive in a painful twist, experts warn

According to Ruchika Kohli, a clinical pathologist based in Nairobi, many doctors and laboratories are seemingly unaware that most rapid tests used in Kenya to screen for Hepatitis B are not good enough to make an accurate diagnosis.

The medical laboratory expert, who works at Pathologists Lancet Kenya, says a lot of rapid test kits from manufacturers in the market have not been approved for Hepatitis, but HIV.
Dr Kohli says only a few selected rapid tests have shown adequate accuracy in terms of sensitivity and specificity to detect Hepatitis B virus infection, and only one of those is certified by the European Union while none has as yet been approved by the regulators in America. “This means the majority of rapid kits in use in Kenya and other countries have not been approved by regulatory authorities to test for Hepatitis B,” she said.

“Though rapid tests for Hepatitis B may be cheaper and technically less demanding and therefore more attractive to use, the fact that these tests have poor accuracy and remain unapproved by regulatory authorities means their use could be misleading and even deadly.”