World Hepatitis Day is July 28 and there is a growing international threat from the disease.
Globally, 67 percent of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C. In some countries it is as high as 97 percent. There are 10 million people who inject drugs worldwide with either hepatitis B or C. An estimated 1.2 million injecting drug users have hepatitis B.
Vaccination rates for hepatitis B among people who inject drugs are lower than in the general population. Stigma and discrimination of people who use drugs stops them from getting tested and treated.
The World Hepatitis Alliance urges those with the B or C strains of the disease demand vaccination.
Unlike many other infections hepatitis can be transmitted from surfaces. The hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for at least 16 hours.
So don’t share spoons, straws, bank notes, pipes, needles, syringes.
The World Health Organization estimates that harm reduction interventions reduce hepatitis C virus transmissions among people who inject drugs by 75 to 80 percent.
The World Hepatitis Alliance urges the following action:
• Prevention – get vaccinated
• Screening – get tested
• Treatment – get better.