While the XIX International AIDS Conference generated well-deserved attention from July 21-27, World Hepatitis Day pays homage to a health pandemic that receives significantly less attention. Saturday, July 28, marks the fifth global commemoration of an often silent but severe disease. One in 12 people worldwide is living with chronic hepatitis B or C, but according to the World Hepatitis Alliance, “awareness is inexplicably low and the majority of those infected are unaware.”
“If left untreated and unmanaged, hepatitis B or C can lead to advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and other complications, including liver cancer or liver failure,” states the World Hepatitis Day fact sheet. “Together, hepatitis B and C kill approximately 1 million people every year.”
The event is one of only four official world disease awareness days endorsed by the World Health Organization. This year’s theme, “This is hepatitis… it’s Closer Than You Think,” highlights the fact that disease incidence is high regardless of age, gender or race.
The alliance is attempting to gain recognition in the Guinness World Records by asking supporters to perform the well-known “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” hand gestures on World Hepatitis Day and to report their involvement.