Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day Date in the current year: May 9, 2024

Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day (CanHepDay) is observed annually on the second Thursday of May (Hepatitis Awareness Month). It was launched in 2022 to rise awareness of the dangers of viral hepatitis and the way it disproportionately affects marginalized communities.

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue due to a viral infection, which is most commonly caused by one of the five unrelated hepatotrophic viruses. The hepatitis A and E viruses are transmitted by the fecal-oral route (through contaminated food or water), while the hepatitis B, C and D viruses are transmitted though blood and body fluids.

Infection with the hepatitis A or E virus usually results in an acute illness with full resolution, whereas the hepatitis B and C viruses can cause both acute and chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C usually leads to chronic hepatitis, which can culminate in cirrhosis or lead to liver failure or the development of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) if left untreated.

According to statistics, an estimated 250,000 people in Canada are living with chronic hepatitis C. Even though the disease can be cured through the use of simple, well-tolerated and highly effective antiviral medications, hepatitis C still remains a public health threat for a number of reasons. First and foremost, this type of viral hepatitis often doesn’t have an acute phase and remains asymptomatic until it’s too late, hence its nickname, the silent killer.

Since hepatitis C is typically asymptomatic, many people don’t know that they’re infected and thus can spread the virus. Hepatitis C typically spreads through needle sharing but one can also contract it by having unprotected sex or sharing personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers, etc.) with an infected person, or by getting manicures, pedicures, piercings, tattoos, or medical procedures with equipment that hasn’t been properly sterilized.

Another reason why hepatitis C is a public health threat is that the disease disproportionately affects marginalized groups, while effective antiviral medicines that can cure hepatitis C are new and therefore very expensive. There are programs that can help cover at least some of the cost, but they may require that the disease has progressed to a certain stage.

Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day is a joint initiative of several Canadian organizations and coalitions such as Action Hepatitis Canada, the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (CanHepC), the Canadian HBV Network (CanHepB), the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver, and the Canadian Liver Foundation. The main goal of the observance is to raise awareness of the importance of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat.

There are several ways to get involved with CanHepDay. You can learn more about the different types of viral hepatitis and their ways of transmission, get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if you haven’t done it yet, get tested for hepatitis C (just in case), donate to a charity that raises viral hepatitis awareness and helps people affected by the disease, and spread the word on social media with the hashtag #CanHepDay and #HepCantWait.

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Canadian Viral Hepatitis Elimination Day, observances in Canada, awareness days, health-related observances, viral hepatitis