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FINDING THE MISSING MILLIONS

Every year, there are dates set aside to mark or create awareness about all kinds of sicknesses. There are World Cancer Day, World Kidney Day, and World Heart Day amongst others.

Today, as I drove my children to my mother’s before I go to work, there was an ad about World Hepatitis Day on the radio. My ten year old asked me what hepatitis was and if it can spread to any part of the body just like cancer. I was dumb folded. Honestly, I did not know. All I knew was Hepatitis B and even with that I didn’t know which parts of the body it affected. I had taken a vaccine against it many years ago when it was “the talk of town”. I was driving so I couldn’t consult google, the- lifter- of- the- heads- of- parents in times like these. I had to own up.

“Kay, I do not know much about Hepatitis. I will find out from Auntie B and let you know”. “Oh, Wow, You don’t? Then how would you take care of us so we don’t get it?” she said. With a sheepish smile, I told her that mummy did not know everything and it was okay to admit it so now that I had, she should google it with my phone and let’s find out all about it together. We will later verify our findings from my sister, who is a Medical Dr.

This is what we found on https://www.healthline.com/health/hepatitis#treatment

Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It’s commonly caused by a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, and alcohol. Autoimmune hepatitis is a disease that occurs when your body makes antibodies against your liver tissue.

The liver is located in the right upper area of the abdomen. It performs many critical functions like producing bile which aids digestion, breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein amongst others.

There are five types of viral infections of the liver and they are all classified as Hepatitis. These five are Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. A different virus is responsible for each type of virally transmitted hepatitis.

Hepatitis A is caused by an infection with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This type of hepatitis is most commonly transmitted by consuming food or water contaminated by faeces from a person infected with hepatitis A.

I had to prompt her that it was the reason why our vegetables needed to be well cleaned because there are some farmers who water fruits and vegetables with contaminated water.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with infectious body fluids, such as blood, vaginal secretions, or semen, containing the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Injection drug use, having sex with an infected partner, or sharing razors with an infected person increase your risk of getting hepatitis B.

I told Kay that it was this type I took the vaccine against. I reminded her that she needed to be careful not to get into contact with body fluids at play or on the bus or play with used razors etc.

Hepatitis C comes from the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids, typically through injection drug use and sexual contact.

I struggled to see the difference between this one and Hepatitis B and told Kay to make a mental note so we ask Auntie B for the difference.

Hepatitis D is also called the delta hepatitis and is more serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). HDV is contracted through direct contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D is a rare form of hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis D virus can’t multiply without the presence of hepatitis B. It’s very uncommon in the United States.

Hepatitis E is a waterborne disease caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). Hepatitis E is mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and typically results from ingesting faecal matter that contaminates the water supply.

We also found out that the non-infectious hepatitis was commonly caused by excessive alcohol and toxin intake.

We could not get into the signs and symptoms and possible treatments before we got to my mother’s but I was glad. This is because although the internet and the site we visited are good sources of information, I needed to be careful what I made Kay believe. For example, fatigue and dark urine, are known symptoms but I do not want her thinking her father has a kind of hepatitis when he says he cannot play with her because he is fatigued  or she assuming she is ill when she thinks her urine is darker than normal. Of course, that is the same reason why I did not want us to read the prevention parts as well. 

Auntie B will do a better job at giving us more information and breaking down what we know now.

After I closed the door behind her, I could hear Kay telling her cousins that today is World Hepatitis day and she needs to educate them about it so they stay safe. I could tell she was going to have a good day being the one with all the  #apor.

I stopped by our digital unit on the way to my office to tell them to put out something on World Hepatitis Day. Like mother like daughter, we are spreading the gospel and feeling good in the process.

Worldwide, 290 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care, millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28 July, we call on people from across the world to take action and raise awareness to find the “missing millions”.( https://www.worldhepatitisday.org/)

July 28, 2020

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