World Hepatitis Day is a public health holiday held each year to raise awareness about hepatitis, a group of infectious diseases that attack the liver and affect people all over the globe. The day also promotes testing and prevention for all five types of the disease: A, B, C, D and E. The World Hepatitis Alliance established this day in 2008 but did you know it was originally held on May 19? The date moved to July 28 in 2010 after the World Health Assembly decided to commemorate the birthday of Baruch Samuel Blumberg, an American physician who discovered hepatitis B in the Sixties, eventually winning a Nobel Prize for his work on the virus and its vaccine.
World Hepatitis Day timeline
American physician and geneticist Baruch Samuel Blumberg receives the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (with Daniel Carleton Gajdusek), for his work on hepatitis B.
The FDA approves a plasma-derived hepatitis B vaccine for human use.
Research results in a second generation of genetically engineered (or DNA recombinant) hepatitis B vaccines.
World Hepatitis Day is recognized globally after a resolution is adopted during the 63rd World Health Assembly.
How to Take Part
Get tested on World Hepatitis Day because you may be unaware that you're infected. It’s a simple blood test that you can take at your doctor’s office or at your neighborhood health center. After you're tested, encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Join an event
Tons of health organizations and affiliates raise awareness about the virus with events on World Hepatitis Day, July 28. Attend concerts, rallies, pop-up testings and more. Search the World Hepatitis Day website to find an event near you.
Or, host your own awareness event
If you can’t find an event near you, no problem! Take the initiative to host a fundraising run/walk, happy hour or a meal. The World Hepatitis Day site has campaign materials, toolkits, and other resources you can download. So, let's get this party started!
Why World Hepatitis Day is Important
It’s a global epidemic
Hepatitis is not one of those diseases that only affects certain demographics or specific regions in the world; you can get hepatitis anywhere. It’s estimated that about 400 million people are infected by hepatitis, worldwide. You can contract hepatitis through blood contact or sexual intercourse. A mother can pass it to her child. That’s why hepatitis can affect people in places where there's little information about the impact on unsafe sexual practices or drug abuse. Left untreated, hepatitis can lead to dangerous and sometimes, fatal liver diseases.
We’ve made huge strides
Here’s the good news: over the last 100 years, there’s been considerable progress in preventing and treating hepatitis. There are vaccines for both hepatitis A and B. At an early age, people in developing countries automatically get these vaccines from their doctors. Hepatitis C is easily treated and hepatitis D and E are rare.
But we still have a long way to go
Almost 90% of the people who have contracted hepatitis don’t realize they’re infected. The World Hepatitis Alliance has set a challenging goal to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. With your help, it’s an achievable goal.
World Hepatitis Day dates