Cyprus Mail

Hepatitis: the silent disease

28072022 hepatitis cover

Cyprus aspires to eradicate hepatitis by 2030, the health ministry said on Thursday on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day which is marked on July 28 each year at the initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Under the slogan ‘Hepatitis can’t wait’ WHO’s initiative aims to raise public awareness on how hepatitis is transmitted and its timely diagnosis and treatment and to press public bodies to take action to eliminate it.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, most commonly caused by a viral infection. There are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause and the potential for outbreaks and epidemic spread.

The most frequent hepatitis viruses, B and C, cause three million new infections worldwide every year and are responsible for 1.1 million deaths. According to WHO, one person dies every 30 seconds from a hepatitis-related illness.

The ministry also cited WHO’s statistics that eight out of 10 patients are unaware they are infected.

“It is no coincidence that scientists have named hepatitis the ‘silent disease’ and that is because the symptoms appear several years later, and as a result of the delayed diagnosis, many times treatment is not successful,” it said.

Protective measures include vaccination against hepatitis A and B, protection during sexual contact, personal hygiene measures and use of one-use needles, the ministry said.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B and C has significantly improved in recent years. Hepatitis C is now treated thanks to new generation drugs, it added.

“Eliminating hepatitis is a priority for the health ministry. The strategic objective of our country, based on the recommendations of WHO, through the strategic national action plan is managing, controlling and finally eradicating hepatitis by 2030,” it concluded.


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