Hepatitis outbreaks are a growing public health threat that affects millions each year. Understanding the factors accelerating this deadly virus is key to uncovering how to best respond to and mitigate its spread. An investigation into the current crisis suggests that opioids, the COVID-19 pandemic, and limited access to testing and treatment play the protagonistic role. This article aims to provide insight into the severity of this virus, its current advancement, and what local, national, and global health departments can do in response.
Hepatitis Outbreaks: Where We Are Now
Hepatitis is a deadly disease with a global impact. According to the World Health Organization, someone loses their life to Hepatitis B or C every thirty seconds, resulting in over a million deaths annually. (ii) In the United States alone, an estimated 862,000 people are currently living with HBV (Hepatitis B), and there are thousands of new cases each year. (iii).
While there are different prevention methods and treatments for viral Hepatitis, more must be done to expand access to care and eliminate barriers to preventing Hepatitis outbreaks.
Hepatitis Outbreaks: The Growing Threat
Barriers to Care
Public health leaders and healthcare departments across the globe should focus on expanding access to care and mitigating barriers to treatment for Hepatitis viruses.
Because drug use is intertwined with the rise in Hepatitis infections, how public health leaders respond to substance use epidemics can have immediate consequences on Hepatitis initiatives.
Hepatitis and COVID-19
What is evident, however, is that more research and time are needed to uncover a conclusive answer.
Further, the vast allocation of resources to fighting the coronavirus has hindered the progress of many Hepatitis public health initiatives. Time, funds, and focus need to return to fighting Hepatitis.
Looking at these different drivers of the Hepatitis outbreaks reveals no singular answer to the problem. Instead, public health leaders from local, national, and global health departments need to consider all the various interrelated factors and work together to develop solutions to them.
Expanding access to vaccinations, increasing testing and awareness within at-risk communities, and investing in more research are just some of the ways we can fight against this growing threat.
At AB Med, we want to be your partner in fighting against Hepatitis in your community.
Contact us today to start working against the factors driving an increase in these deadly infections.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). What Is Viral Hepatitis? [online] CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/abc/index.htm.
- www.who.int. (n.d.). World Hepatitis day 2022. [online] Available at: https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-hepatitis-day/2022 [Accessed 20 Jul. 2022].
- www.naccho.org. (n.d.). NACCHO Applauds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Updated Adult Hepatitis B Vaccination Recommendations – NACCHO. [online] Available at: https://www.naccho.org/blog/articles/naccho-applauds-the-centers-for-disease-control-and-preventions-updated-adult-hepatitis-b-vaccination-recommendations [Accessed 20 Jul. 2022].
- VIRAL HEPATITIS National Strategic Plan A Roadmap to Elimination. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/Viral-Hepatitis-National-Strategic-Plan-2021-2025.pdf.
- Abuse, N.I. on D. (2020). Viral Hepatitis—A Very Real Consequence of Substance Use. [online] National Institute on Drug Abuse. Available at: https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/viral-hepatitis-very-real-consequence-substance-use.
Powell, D., Alpert, A. and Pacula, R.L. (2019). A Transitioning Epidemic: How The Opioid Crisis Is Driving The Rise In Hepatitis C. Health Affairs, 38(2), pp.287–294. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05232.
Ledford, H. (2022). Mysterious child hepatitis continues to vex researchers. Nature, [online] 607(7917), pp.20–21. doi:10.1038/d41586-022-01706-y.
- Mohapatra, R.K., Kandi, V., Tuli, H.S., Verma, S., Chakraborty, S., Rabaan, A.A., Chakraborty, C. and Dhama, K. (2022). Emerging cases of acute Hepatitis of unknown origin in children amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: Needs attention – Correspondence. International Journal of Surgery, 102, p.106682. doi:10.1016/j.ijsu.2022.106682.
By: Erik McLaughlin MD, MPH and Aikaterini Papadopoulou, B.Arch