Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. There are five different hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.
World Hepatitis Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World AIDS Day.
Hepatitis B is spread when blood or other body fluids from an infected person enters the body of another person. A pregnant woman who has hepatitis B can pass the virus to her infant at birth without timely intervention. In fact, 90% of infected infants develop a lifelong infection, and an estimated one-fourth of them will die prematurely. To address this public health concern, all pregnant women in the United States and many other countries are now routinely screened for hepatitis B. If a pregnant woman has hepatitis B, health care providers take extra effort to make sure her newborn gets timely vaccination to prevent this deadly disease. Completing the vaccine series can prevent transmission of the virus in over 90% of infants born to infected women. To protect every infant from potential infection, CDC recommends all babies get the first shot in the hepatitis B vaccine series before leaving the hospital, and completing the vaccine series as recommended.
Approximately 500 million people worldwide are living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C. If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure. While many people worry more about contracting AIDS than hepatitis, the reality is that every year 1.5 million people worldwide die from either hepatitis B or C faster than they would from HIV/AIDS.