World Hepatitis Day
July 28th is the 7th World Hepatitis Day. AASLD makes use of this opportunity to pause and reflect on the significance of viral hepatitis, progress made so far, and future challenges. As hepatologists, we tend to focus on the common forms of chronic viral hepatitis – that is hepatitis B and hepatitis C, but we should not forget the toll of morbidity and even mortality associated with acute hepatitis A, hepatitis E, and hepatitis D.
It has been my personal privilege to have worked in the field of viral hepatitis for more than 30 years now and I have been witness to incredible changes and progress. Following the discovery of the hepatitis B virus in 1965, a safe and effective vaccine was developed and had been widely deployed by the end of the 1980s. The last ten years have brought several highly potent and effective antiviral drugs to the market, so that now we can legitimately claim that we can control hepatitis B through vaccination and therapy. Work is already underway to try and develop new agents that might eliminate hepatitis B viral infection, not just control it.