Viral hepatitis is closer than you think – to date over 2 billion people have been exposed to viral hepatitis B and C. As a result, 1 in 12 people worldwide is living with the disease. That’s 15 times as many people as are living with HIV.
Hepatitis is not just prevalent, it’s lethal too. The disease is responsible for 78% of all primary liver cancers globally and kills well over a million people a year (that’s rather more than get killed by falling pianos).
Yet, despite this, the disease has had almost no profile.
It was this lack of profile that led to the creation of the World Hepatitis Alliance – an international alliance of hepatitis patient groups in more than 60 countries. Our mission is to change the landscape completely for people with viral hepatitis by making it as much of a priority issue as HIV or malaria or TB.
In 2008, we established and organised World Hepatitis Day. In 2010, following a two year advocacy campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) turned World Hepatitis Day into only the fourth disease-specific WHO-official day (the others being for AIDS, TB and malaria).
Having worked with the WHO to develop a global strategy for viral hepatitis, we are now working towards the goal of implementing a national hepatitis strategy in each country. To help inform this, we will be auditing what countries do through an annual Viral Hepatitis: Global Prevention & Control report that we will be undertaking on behalf of WHO.
What makes hepatitis B and C so important? Hepatitis B is entirely preventable and could be eradicated in a single generation. If only we had the will. The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the cheapest, most effective vaccines available. Hepatitis C is curable, currently in about 70% of people who take treatment. New drugs will bring that closer to 100% in around 5 years. It too will be eradicable. If only we had the will.
We should aim to eradicate those diseases that we can. Heaven knows there are enough things we can do very little about.
Help us do exactly that.
If you would like to support us, call us on 0044 207378 0159, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or simply click here to donate