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WHO launches action plan against ‘hidden epidemic’ of hepatitis

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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday measures to fight the “hidden epidemic” of hepatitis which kills more than one million people a year.

The virus, which settles in the liver causing inflammation, affects 500 million people worldwide but can go unnoticed for years and even decades, the UN health agency told reporters in Geneva.

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“The vast majority of people infected with hepatitis are unaware, undiagnosed and untreated,” says Dr Sylvie Briand of WHO’s Pandemic and Epidemic Disease Department.

“Only by increasing awareness of the different forms of hepatitis, and how they can be prevented and treated, can we take the first step towards full control of the disease and save thousands of lives,” she added.

One in 12 people are infected by the virus which exists in five forms: A, B, C, D and E.

The WHO is particulary keen to target types B and C since “a high proportion” of people only become aware of their infection when they are chronically ill.

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“This can sometimes be decades after infection,” said Briand.

Launched ahead of World Hepatitis Day on July 28, the WHO’s multi-pronged action plan to eradicate the virus calls on governments to raise awareness, transform research into policy and action, and prevent transmission by effective screening, care and treatment.

“It’s a framework for global action so we all collaborate to fight the hidden epidemic”, said Briand.

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Individuals can protect themselves by washing their hands, food safety practices, practising safe sex and avoiding injecting drugs with infected needles, “one of the most common ways of getting infected in some countries”, said Briand.

The virus was only discovered in 1989 but vaccines are available for all virus types except C.

A new generation of anti-viral treatments is also on offer for hepatitis C, said Briand, adding that other treatments to stop the B type developing into cirrhosis and cancer are also coming online.

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[Doctor gives an intramuscular injection in female arm via Shutterstock.com.]

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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WATCH: Spike Lee tears into Trump for empowering white supremacy

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On Tuesday, director Spike Lee talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper about race, slavery, and President Donald Trump — and pulled no punches on any of it.

"I think that most woke historians would say that this country, the United States of America, was built upon the genocide of people and slavery. I mean, that's a fact," said Lee. "And I think that if we Americans came to study how this country started, we wouldn't be talking about kick immigrants out, you know, because if it wasn't — I mean, Native Americans, people brought here as slaves, everyone was immigrants. I woke up this morning and went on Instagram and felt my ancestors, not the only one saying this but I think it's a very important date today in American history."

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Trump’s ‘indefensible’ comments just made it ‘much much harder’ for GOP to win in 2020: Ex-RNC Chair

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President Donald Trump's latest anti-Semitic trope is going to make it "much much harder" for Republicans to hold control of the White House in 2020, the former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) explained on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Michael Steele was interviewed by MSNBC's Chris Matthews on "Hardball."

"There’s a long-respected leader of what's called Jewish Republicans, Matt Brooks -- I've known him for a long time -- this guy has the job of helping get votes, Republican votes, in the community, which generally votes Democrats," Matthews noted. "What is he going to deal with this baby, this assault on religious identity and trying to claim you must vote your group?"

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Whistleblower alleges misconduct in IRS audits — and it could finally deliver Trump’s tax returns: report

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On Tuesday, Politico reported that House Democrats received a tip from a whistleblower about possible misconduct at the Internal Revenue Service in audits of presidential tax returns — and plan to use this revelation to bolster their legal case for obtaining President Donald Trump's tax returns.

In a federal court motion, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), who is seeking the president's tax returns, included a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin from earlier this month, informing him that the committee received an "undisclosed communication ... from a Federal employee setting forth credible allegations of 'evidence of possible misconduct' — specifically, potential 'inappropriate attempts to influence the mandatory audit program.'"

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