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World Hepatitis Day: ‘Timely diagnosis, treatment need of the hour’

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World Hepatitis Day: ‘Timely diagnosis, treatment need of the hour’The World Hepatitis Day is observed on the 27th of July every year. India is among the 11 countries carrying nearly 50 per cent of the global burden of chronic hepatitis.

According to WHO, viral hepatitis B and C are major health challenges, affecting 325 million people globally. They are root causes of liver cancer, leading to 1.34 million deaths every year. Around 40 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B and 6 to 12 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C in India. At least 60 per cent of liver cancer cases are due to late testing and treatment of viral hepatitis B and C.

Have a look on what experts say about the disease:

Dr Sweta Gupta, Clinical Director and senior consultant, Fertility Solutions, Medicover Fertility

Hepatitis in simple terms means inflammation of the liver. If the liver is inflamed or damaged, its functions get affected. Most common factors that can cause Hepatitis are – viral infection, heavy alcohol use, toxins, careless medications, and certain medical conditions. The most common strains of Hepatitis are B & C, which affect millions of people in India. These strains generally spread through infected blood. Hepatitis B also spreads through unsafe sexual acts. Vaccines are available for Hepatitis B, but not for Hepatitis C. There are around five types of Hepatitis but Hepatitis B virus is known to lower sperm motility and impairs fertility in male population. However, in women it is associated with risk of Tubal and Uterine infertility. If your partner is suffering from Hepatitis B you should immediately visit a doctor in order to reduce further risks”

Dr Lovkesh Anand, consultant Gastroenterology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital

 Viral Hepatitis is a silent epidemic and the most important reason for this is lack of awareness. On one end, we have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E which are transmitted by contaminated food and water, are usually self limited. On the other hand we have Hepatitis B and C, which are transmitted by blood and body fluids, and are important causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer. HBV is rather the second most common carcinogen after tobacco in man. Hepatitis B and C are many fold infectious than HIV, but unfortunately, less than 10 per cent infected patients receive treatment. With a good screening programme, greater vaccine cover for Hepatitis B and availability of effective medicines, we can reduce the disease burden as well as its complications “

Dr Monika Jain, Senior Consultant, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute

India is among the 11 countries carrying nearly 50 per cent of the global burden of chronic hepatitis. In India, viral hepatitis remains a major public health challenge with intermediate to high endemicity for Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B virus infection is a very important cause of viral hepatitis, 3-5 per cent of Indian population is carrier for hepatitis B infection. The most common route of transmission incriminated in India is from mother to child, other routes of transmission are unsafe blood products, immunological products, sexual route, unsafe needles and syringes. The most common symptoms of this disease include skin or the whites of the eyes turn yellow, fever, fatigue that persists for weeks or months, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms should never be ignored. My advice to people is that they should not be ignorant about this deadly disease and should adopt protective measures for the same with an aim to eliminate this disease “

Dr Gaurav Jain, Senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital 

“Hepatitis B virus infection is one of the most serious health problems worldwide. It can be spread through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and other body fluids of someone who already has a hepatitis B infection. About 16 per cent of untreated acute hepatitis covers latent or chronic hepatitis B, and the risk is much higher in children. Reuse of injection and unsafe injection practices adds to the risk of acquiring both Hepatitis B and C in medical settings. Secondary risk factors include tattooing, mother-to-child transmission at birth and unprotected sex. It can also lead to end-stage liver disease, liver cancer and cirrhosis, if undetected for a long period. In India around 40 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B and 6 to 12 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C”

Dr Nripen Saikia, Senior Consultant, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, PSRI Hospital

“There are multiple viruses that cause acute self-limiting liver injury and some causes chronic liver injury (chronic hepatitis). Hepatitis-A and hepatitis–E virus infection is commonly seen which are transmitted with contaminated water and food. They are usually self-limiting, although sometimes may lead to severe liver damage. Hepatitis b and hepatitis c virus infection usually cause chronic hepatitis, which leads to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Around 4 per cent of the population, 40 million are infected with Hepatitis B virus and 8.5-12 million people are infected with Hepatitis C virus in India. Around 30  per cent of liver cirrhosis are due to Hepatitis B and 10-12 per cent of cirrhosis are due to Hepatitis C virus infection in India. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are also the major cause of liver cancer in India. So timely diagnosis and treatment is utmost important for the prevention of Hepatitis”

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