World Hepatitis Day: Understanding How Hepatitis Affects Orphaned Children

A child smiling while getting an IV

World Hepatitis Day is on July 28 to call attention to the global epidemic of viral hepatitis and in recognition of Dr. Baruch Blumberg’s birthday.

After identifying the hepatitis B virus in the year 1967, Dr. Blumberg worked tirelessly to create a vaccine against it in 1969.

There are about 350 million people infected with Hepatitis B around the world, making it the most common chronic viral infection worldwide.

Although the disease is widespread, it is more prevalent in Asia and Africa than in the Americas. This is why it is important to create awareness of how dangerous this disease is and how we can help vulnerable communities fight against it.

Prevalence of Hepatitis in Orphanages Worldwide

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis are two viruses that can be spread amongst children at institutions for abandoned infants and children without parents.

A growing body of research reassures that these diseases may be deadly, but they can be controlled with proper preventive measures.

According to research conducted in 2014 in Anambra State, Nigeria, several orphanage caregivers tested positive for the virus, while no local women did. Infections with HCV were most common among children younger than five years old.

The researchers speculated that the illness was latent in the orphanages.

The study also highlighted the importance of keeping a close eye on the children in orphanages to ensure that the hepatitis C infection doesn’t develop into an infectious illness.

Hepatitis B in Young Women and Children

Hepatitis B is a liver-threatening virus. In most cases, if a person gets the infection, it clears up on its own after a few weeks and causes no lasting health issues.

When a patient carries the virus, it can cause inflammation of the liver that lasts for years and other long-term complications like liver cirrhosis and cancer.

Medical literature has only recently started covering natural history investigations of chronic HBV in children. The age of initial infection plays a huge role in developing chronic HBV.

A mother who is infected with and carries the Hepatitis B virus can pass it on to her newborn child during delivery.

Children born to infected mothers are vulnerable to infection right up until they are born.

Unfortunately, newborns are not routinely given Hepatitis B immune globulin and vaccine to protect them from infection because mothers often do not receive prenatal care.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is now routinely administered at many orphan organizations worldwide. The vaccination program will help reduce the spread of the illness among orphans.

However, vaccinations are often given too late to prevent the virus from being passed from mother to child during birth.

Help Us Fight the Virus

Orphan Life Foundation’s HIV and AIDS Program is dedicated to helping kids who are either living with HIV/AIDS or have lost a parent to the disease.

Through medical testing, community education, and support services, we hope to help the orphans in India, the Philippines and Africa at risk of HIV infection.

Our orphanage funding organization is accepting support and monetary donations of all sizes. Reach out to us to learn more about our programs and ways you can support us.