World Hepatitis Day

Helping to improve awareness about Hepatitis


Did you know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A every year and there are about 240 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B? Did you know hepatitis A and B can cause inflammation of the liver, while hepatitis B can cause chronic infection that can be lifelong? And did you know that both hepatitis A and B are vaccine-preventable diseases?

A lot of people don’t know much about the condition and that is why we celebrate World Hepatitis Day every year on July 29th: to increase understanding of viral hepatitis and awareness of how you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

What is Hepatitis A?

The hepatitis A virus is spread by ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person. This occurs most often in countries where Hepatitis A is common, especially where food may not be handled properly and where there is a lack of safe water and poor sanitation. To kill the virus, food must be thoroughly cooked and water must be boiled for one minute. Hands should also be washed thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet. Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travellers.

Although rare, food-borne outbreaks of Hepatitis A still occur in Canada and in the United States. Contamination of food can happen at any point: growing, harvesting, processing, handling, and even after cooking.  The best way to prevent getting infected with Hepatitis A is by getting vaccinated.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus that can cause both acute and chronic disease. The hepatitis B virus is spread through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.

Hepatitis B is common throughout the world. When you travel, it is important to be careful. The best way to prevent getting infected with hepatitis B is to get vaccinated.  In Canada, the hepatitis B vaccine is publicly funded as part of the routine vaccination schedule. For those who have missed it, or were not part of the vaccinated cohorts, schedule an appointment to get yourself up-to-date. If short on time, an accelerated version is also available.

How can you protect yourself?

World Hepatitis Day is a great way to raise awareness in disease prevention and access to testing and treatment. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is by vaccinating against hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A is a 2-dose series, while hepatitis B is a 3-dose series. Both are done over a course of 6 months and both are good for life once completed.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to get vaccinated or have further questions about these vaccines, call the Travel Clinic – Vancouver Coastal Health at (604) 736-9244.

We urge everyone to learn about the risk factors involved in hepatitis A and B and schedule appointments to get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated.

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