Yellow July: how to fight and prevent viral hepatitis

Colors, which have always been very important in decoration and harmonization, have been taking on a new role for some years. Chosen to color an entire month of awareness, they integrate campaigns that warn about health and medical care.

October Rose , Blue November February Purple are some initiatives already well known that color the circulation of information about breast cancer , prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s, respectively.

And it is not only patients and family members who already know and recognize these campaigns, as colors are increasingly linked to actions.

This time, it is time for the yellow to join the prevention and care of hepatitis, occupying the month of July.

How did the Yellow Yellow campaign come about?

Sanctioned and published on January 11, 2019 in the Federal Official Gazette, Law 13.802 establishes July as the month to fight viral hepatitis A, B and C. With this, the month of July gains yellow tones to reinforce the importance of care and disease prevention.

But the color has been dyeing for the 7th month of the year for some time now, bringing information and clarifications to the population. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) instituted the World Day to Combat Viral Hepatitis, on July 28th.

It was during the 63rd World Health Assembly, held in May 2010, that health entities warned about the dangers and the need to spread viral infections more. This is because, for a long time, this impact was neglected, affecting the quality of life of the populations and public health as a whole.

Since then, the Ministry of Health has been promoting campaigns and encouraging the dissemination of information on prevention, symptoms and treatments of hepatitis.

The union of the Department of STD, AIDS and Viral Hepatitis of the Secretariat of Health Surveillance organizes, every year, confrontation initiatives necessary for society.

That’s because, according to data from the Ministry of Health, about 2 million people have chronic viral hepatitis and are unaware of the condition.

What are Viral Hepatitis?

Viral hepatitis is a group of diseases caused by viruses that cause inflammation in the liver and, if left untreated, lead to irreversible complications.

There are 5 types or classes of the infectious agent – A, B, C, D and E – that are present worldwide, although some locations have a higher prevalence of one type.

In Brazil, the most common are types A, B and C.

The World Health Organization indicates that approximately 400 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the hepatitis B and C virus. In addition, another 1.4 million have the type A virus.

Often, the patient does not know that he has the disease, because even if infected, the organism does not manifest symptoms.

Thus, the disease remains silent for several years until it begins to develop complications. And they can be quite serious, including liver cirrhosis and liver cancer .

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is also known as infectious hepatitis. The route of transmission of the agent is through the ingestion of contaminated water or food, or by fecal-oral contact, in which the person is exposed to contaminated feces.

Generally, the condition has no symptoms, but when they do occur, tiredness , fever , abdominal pain, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes may appear , as well as changes in the color of stools and urine.

A blood test is enough to detect the condition. Treatment is also easy and, if properly performed, the condition is completely cured, with little chance of complications.

Type A has a vaccine, being an effective means of prevention, in addition to the correct hygiene of food and consumption of drinking water.

Hepatite B

Type B hepatitis is sexually transmitted, which is one of the most common forms of infection.

Transmission of the virus can also occur during pregnancy – from mother to child – during childbirth or breastfeeding, in the sharing of personal objects – blades, cuticle pliers, syringes -, in addition to blood transfusion.

The condition is usually asymptomatic, although mild symptoms, such as tiredness, vomiting, fever, yellow skin and eyes may appear.

Diagnosis is through blood tests and treatment may require medication.

The hepatitis B is vaccine available in the health units, requiring three doses for immunization.

Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus is usually transmitted by blood transfusion, and individuals sharing of objects, such as razor blades, needles, toothbrushes, cuticle pliers or other objects used for drilling (as tattooing needles and piercing).

Although uncommon, it can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and during sex, being more prevalent among men who have sex with men or patients with HIV .

The symptoms tend to be asymptomatic, but some patients may manifest the comprehensive symptoms of the disease, such as tiredness, fever, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes.

On average, 80% of acute cases progress to a chronic condition, that is, when the disease persists for more than 6 months.

Tests for detecting the disease are very important and can be done free of charge at SUS health units. Treatment depends on the condition and stage of the disease, as well as the genotype (type) of the virus.

Although type C does not have a vaccine, prevention is quite simple.

Not sharing piercing objects (syringes, blades) is very important. Pregnant women should do the prenatal and perform the detection exams, avoiding possible transmissions.

Hepatitis Guide

Yellow July Campaign 2019

Every year, health organizations are mobilized to bring information to patients, families and the general population about hepatitis.

In 2018, the Yellow July was still a bill, the PLC 35/2018. But, in 2019, with the enactment of the Law, the July Yellow campaign gains another strength, now with legal support for health promotion, prevention, information and assistance in relation to viral hepatitis.

Among the action proposals, are national actions throughout the month of July – but not only in it – for vaccination, periodic examinations, correct treatment and, of course, information.

In 2002, the National Viral Hepatitis Program was created, initiating health care campaigns and actions. Since then, several policies have been created, such as:

  • Institution of World Viral Hepatitis Day, 2010;
  • Dissemination of the 1st epidemiological bulletin of viral hepatitis, in 2010;
  • Broader offer of hepatitis B vaccine for vulnerable groups;
  • Distribution of rapid tests in 2011;
  • Expansion of the vaccination age range, going from 20 to 24 years.

Hepatitis A vaccine

The hepatitis A vaccine is an inactivated immunizer, which means that the production is made with dead microorganisms or fragments of them, making it impossible to contract the disease through application.

In the composition, there is the hepatitis A virus antigen, amorphous aluminum salt, stabilizer (according to the manufacturer), 0.9% sodium chloride.

It may contain traces of neomycin (antibiotic), phenoxyethanol and formaldehyde.

The dose can be administered to patients over 12 months of age, and for the National Immunization Program, the application of 1 dose should occur between 15 months and 5 years of age.

For the Brazilian Societies of Pediatrics (SBP) and Immunizations (SBIm), the guidance is for 2 applications, preferably at 12 and 18 months.

If not done on those dates, they should be done as soon as possible.

The contraindication is for patients with allergies or high sensitivity to the components of the formula, or who had an adverse reaction to the previous application.

Hepatitis B vaccine

The hepatitis B vaccine is an inactivated type, which means that it cannot cause infection. That’s because it is produced with the hepatitis B virus protein.

In addition to it, there are aluminum hydroxide, sodium chloride and water for injection, which may contain sodium phosphate, potassium phosphate, sodium borate and thimerosal.

The entire population can receive, free of charge, the hepatitis B vaccine. Therefore, those who have not been vaccinated in the correct period, can – and should – go to a health unit to receive the immunizer.

In the vaccination booklet, the correct application time is:

  • 1st dose at birth;
  • 2nd to 2 months;
  • 3rd dose at 4 months;
  • 4th to 6 months.

Children, adolescents and adults who did not receive the vaccine at the correct age, should receive 3 doses at intervals of 1 month between the 1st and 2nd, and 5 months between the 2nd and 3rd.

Cases that are contraindicated for vaccination include people with allergies or severe sensitivity to the components.

In addition, anyone who received a dose and had thrombocytopenic purpura (a disease in which there is destruction of platelets, which are blood cells) should also receive medical advice.

What other care and ways to prevent hepatitis?

Prevention is the greatest ally against hepatitis. Some diseases are quickly identifiable as they manifest very characteristic symptoms. Hepatitis, however, generally does not have the same course.

Of the 3 most common types in Brazil, A, B and C, only type A has no potential to become chronic, that is, to persist for more than 6 months.

The big problem with types B and C is that, often, the symptoms only appear when the disease has already compromised the body, leaving lesions to the functioning of the organs.

For this reason, the campaign promotes a network of actions that include:

Free trials

The Unified Health System (SUS) provides free tests for several diseases, including hepatitis. And there are 2 types, rapid tests and laboratory tests. With the rapid test, it takes about 30 minutes for the patient to receive the diagnosis.

As hepatitis may not show symptoms, observing if there has been exposure to risk factors is the main way to know if it is necessary to perform the test.

They include sharing sharp or piercing objects (cuticle pliers, needles and syringes) or unprotected sex.

Remembering that the diagnosis of types B and C can only be made after at least 60 days of exposure to the virus.

Prevention of mother-to-baby transmission

Although less common, it is possible to have hepatitis B transmission to the baby during pregnancy or childbirth – called vertical transmission.

Therefore, pregnant women should be tested for the disease. If the result is positive for chronic hepatitis B, the patient must receive prophylaxis, which is a preventive treatment.

In some cases, the doctor may deem it necessary to administer prophylactic treatment to the baby after birth as well.

Harm reduction actions

Among the actions that aim to reduce the transmissions and the circulation of the hepatitis virus is the harm reduction policy.

As the sharing of syringes or accessories for drug use is one of the routes of transmission, the disposal of disposable products is essential for people to be safe.

Encouraging the use of condoms

Health education actions encourage the use of condoms throughout sexual intercourse, as a means of preventing hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases.

In health units and clinics it is possible to remove condoms free of charge every day. In addition, in street campaigns, actions and mobilizations there is also the distribution of male and female condoms.

Treatment of people with HIV / AIDS

In addition to being essential for the patient to recover and maintain quality of life, HIV / AIDS treatment reduces the risk of contracting hepatitis.

In addition, when infection occurs, the chances of the condition progressing to cirrhosis and hepatocarcinoma (liver cancer) are greater.


Colors are also a way to warn about care with disease prevention and health maintenance.

In order to increase the circulation of information about viral hepatitis, the month of July was dedicated to combating, preventing and promoting health in relation to diseases.

To find out more about health campaigns and initiatives, in addition to knowing how to live a more balanced life, follow the Healthy Minute!

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