Hepatitis B and C affect 500 million people around the world everyday: 1 in 12 of the entire world’s population. Rates in the UK are much lower with less than 1% of the population suffering from the illness. As part of World Hepatitis Day 2011 health workers from NHS Rotherham, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust and South Yorkshire Health Protection Unit have been offering people advice about the prevention and treatment of these infections.
Kathy Wakefield, Health Protection and Infection Prevention Manager for NHS Rotherham said: “World Hepatitis Day is an annual event which aims to raise local and global awareness of hepatitis B and C and encourage prevention, diagnosis and treatment in all people who may be at an increased risk of infection.”
Drugs to treat hepatitis C are becoming more and more effective and some strains can now to be treated with a 50% success rate while others are able to boast up to an 80% success rate.
Consultant Gastroenterologist at The Rotherham NHS Foundations Trust, Barbara Hoeroldt says: “These days, treatment is available for both hepatitis B and C and the outcomes are improving all the time; however lack of awareness and fear or prejudice keep people from getting tested and treated if required.”
Not all people with chronic hepatitis B require treatment but they require monitoring to start treatment when it becomes necessary. Drugs for hepatitis B normally do not cure the disease but suppress the virus effectively and need to be taken long-term. Whilst there is a highly effective vaccine for hepatitis B, unfortunately, a vaccine for hepatitis C is long way off.
Barbara adds “I would encourage the people of Rotherham to go and see their GP if they are concerned about any symptoms they may have, as early detection gives a better chance of successful treatments.”