World Hepatitis Day: Find the Missing Millions
Worldwide, 290 million people are unaware that they living with viral hepatitis. World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of knowing your hepatitis status to find the “missing millions”.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, a virus often causes hepatitis. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are A, B, and C. Vaccines can prevent hepatitis A and B, but not for hepatitis C. Hepatitis A can last up to 2 months, and most people don’t have long-lasting illness. While hepatitis B and C tend to be life-long and cause serious health problems, there are medications to treat and sometimes cure the virus.
Hepatitis and Reproductive Health
- Birth Control – Women with severe liver damage may not be able to use birth control. This is because a damaged liver may have problems breaking down estrogen.
- Pregnancy – The chance of passing hepatitis B to your baby during pregnancy is high. However, the chance of passing hepatitis C to your baby is low. Both hepatitis B and C can increase your chances for pregnancy complications. Certain hepatitis B and C medicines are safe to take during your pregnancy but some can cause harm to your baby if taken during pregnancy.
- Menstrual Cycles – With hepatitis C, you may miss your period or have shorter periods. This can happen as a side effect of hepatitis medicines. Since hepatitis C is spread through blood, there is a higher chance of passing hepatitis C to your partner during your period.
- Sperm – Hepatitis C and B can lower semen volume, sperm count, sperm motility, and reduce fertilization that can cause infertility in men.
Help find the missing millions today by finding a local healthcare provider near you to get tested and vaccinated for hepatitis.