Helping to prevent Hep  

29 July 2020

This week we celebrated World Hepatitis Day, a day designated to promoting awareness and prevention of the liver-damaging virus strains.

It’s estimated around 290 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without diagnosis lives could be lost. Consequently, this year’s theme is “find the missing millions”.

In South Australia specialised Viral Hepatitis Nurses are helping to curb and treat the illness, as clinical practice consultants who work with patients in the community, general practice or in hospital settings (visit

Hepatitis B is the most common liver virus in the world, with about 226,600 Australians living with the condition. People can get treatment to manage living with Hep B, but not cure it. However, there is a vaccine to protect you from the virus.

You can contract Hep B if infected blood or body fluids infiltrate your blood, or if you have unprotected sex. Hepatitis B is not transmissible through saliva. Many people with Hep B exhibit no symptoms but they can include tiredness, irritability, pain in the liver (upper right side of the stomach), aches and pains in the joints, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

More than 150,000 people are living with hepatitis C which is also blood borne; be it, like Hep B, through sharing a toothbrush, a razor, nail files, syringes or tattooing or body piercing with unsterilised equipment.

Like Hep B, people with Hep C often do not experience symptoms, but these can include fatigue, aches and pains, anxiety, poor appetite, skin rashes and itchy skin. The good news is there is now a highly effective cure for hepatitis C.

Like hepatitis B and C, hepatitis A is a virus that affects the liver. However, unlike Hep B and C, it is transmitted by ingesting infected faeces, such as eating food prepared by someone who didn’t wash their hands thoroughly.

Symptoms include jaundice, stomach pains and nausea. Although not common in Australia, people generally make a full recovery.

At this stage there is no evidence to suggest people living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, who are well are at greater risk of infection with COVID-19. However, current information suggests some people living with Hep B and C who also have other conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes will likely have an increased risk of serious illness if they contract COVID-19.

World Hepatitis Day is on July 28. For more information ring the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 437 222 or Hepatitis SA Helpline on 1800 437 222.  You can also take the Hepatitis Risk Quiz on:

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