Liver Protected Against Hepatitis Virus

Sunday 28 July 2019 is World Hepatitis Day as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in honour of the man who discovered the hepatitis B virus, American physician and Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg.

Hepatitis is the inflammation and infection of the liver and sufferers may be diagnosed with acute or chronic hepatitis. In fact, there are five types of hepatitis known as A, B, C, D and E with A and E being short term (acute) and B, C and D long term (chronic). More than 100 countries acknowledge 28 July and promote events and activities that engage citizens to better understand hepatitis, causes and the available medication and treatment of the virus.

According to medical research, chronic hepatitis may lead to liver scarring, liver failure and liver cancer. More than 1.5million people die each year as a result of chronic hepatitis hence the continuous need to educate, share information and create awareness of this virus. This year the theme of World Hepatitis Day 2019 is “Invest in Eliminating Hepatitis”. Hepatitis does not only affect certain demographics or specific regions in the world, but it is also a global epidemic. It’s estimated that about 400 million people are infected by hepatitis worldwide. You can contract hepatitis through blood contact, sexual intercourse, sharing of needles, drugs or it can be passed from mother to child.

Much like HIV or hypertension, most people are unaware they have contracted hepatitis unless they do a blood test which is quite simple. The City is encouraging people to take a blood test from next week onwards at any of its clinics or at a doctor or pharmacy. There are vaccines for hepatitis which is good news. According to Doctor Anna Sparaco, Specialist Surgeon at the Donald Gordon Medical Centre the initial symptoms of hepatitis are flu-like and may include diarrhoea, fatigue, loss of appetite, mild fever, body aching, abdominal pain, vomiting and weight loss. Worsening is indicated by the presence of circulatory problems, dark urine, dizziness, drowsiness, enlarged spleen, headache, itchy skin, light coloured stools, yellow skin, yellow whites of the eyes and yellow tongue.


The liver is the largest internal organ of the human body and weighs about 1.3kg on average. It resides on the right side of the upper abdomen below the rib cage. It has multiple functions involving digestion of food; storage of energy; production of proteins and removal of poisons. The liver is a reddish-brown, wedge-shaped organ with four lobes of unequal size and shape.

(ENDS) Issued by the City of Joburg