The Cayman Islands joins in global observance of World Hepatitis Day this week.
On Tuesday, 28 July 2015, the Cayman Islands Hospital will offer free Hepatitis B and C testing from 9 am to 1 pm.
Free testing is also be available, by appointment only, throughout the week of Monday, 27 – Friday 31 July. Please call the STI and HIV Programme Coordinator, Nurse Laura Elniski at 244 2507 for an appointment or more information.
World Hepatitis Day 2015, with the slogan: Prevent Hepatitis – Act Now, will focus on prevention of hepatitis B and C. Both hepatitis B and C are preventable, and hepatitis C is also curable, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams explained. Hepatitis B can be prevented with a vaccine. All children and adults should be vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Vaccinations are available throughout the year at the Public Health Department, he noted.
“I am delighted that the Public Health Department is continuing to focus on preventable diseases such as hepatitis,” Premier and Minister of Health, Hon. Alden McLaughlin said. “Liver disease is an issue and is often considered a silent disease; therefore people should take advantage of free hepatitis B and C testing,” he added.
About World Hepatitis Day: A World Health Organisation (WHO) initiative, the principal objectives behind the global Hepatitis Day observance is to promote prevention, testing and treatment of hepatitis, a serious problem that kills 1.4 million people around the world but is preventable. Focusing on prevention of both serious illnesses hepatitis B and C this year, the theme for this year’s campaign is Prevent Hepatitis – Act Now.
Following the successful launch of hepatitis C guidelines, WHO has launched hepatitis B treatment guidelines in March 2015. Currently, a broad consultative process is underway to develop the first-ever global health strategy on viral hepatitis.
An inaugural World Hepatitis Summit, jointly organised by WHO, the World Hepatitis Alliance and the Scottish Government on 2-4 September 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland will bring together health ministers, policy makers and patient groups. The summit aims to promote action to reduce the burden of viral hepatitis around the world.
About Hepatitis: Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. Acute infection may occur with limited or no symptoms, or may include symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis but other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs), and autoimmune diseases can also cause hepatitis. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Common modes of transmission for Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) include transfusions of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment, including contaminated injection needles and through injection drug use.
HBV can also be transmitted from infected mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact through infective semen and other bodily fluids. HBV also poses a risk to healthcare workers who sustain accidental needle stick injuries while caring for infected-HBV patients.
Hepatitis B can be prevented through safe and effective vaccination and can be treated and managed through treatment. All children and adults should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. For children, the first dose is given within 24 hours or birth. Once vaccinated, a person is protected for life from hepatitis B.
HCV is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This may happen through transfusions of HCV-contaminated blood and blood products, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injection drug use. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common. There is no vaccine for HCV.