World Hepatitis Day 'One in every 12 people suffers from Hepatitis
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19 May 2010
By Anupam Bhagria
Punjab has a large number of people suffering from liver disease and cirrhosis, say experts
About 170 million people worldwide are infected with chronic Hepatitis C. Of these, about 20 to 30 per cent develop significant liver disease in the form of liver cancer or cirrhosis and this infection is quite common in Punjab. This was stated by Dr Dinesh Singla, gastroenterologist, at Ludhiana Medicity Hospital on the eve of World Hepatitis Day.
Talking to Newsline, Dr Singla said, “There are many causes of hepatitis including autoimmune, drug abuse, alcohol etc. About 400 million people are infected with chronic Hepatitis B worldwide. Of this, about 5 to 25 per cent develop significant liver disease in the form of cirrhosis and liver cancer. These patients should get regular check up and treatment and their relatives should be screened and be vaccinated if found negative to prevent the transmission of infection.”
This year's theme of the World Hepatitis Day is `Am I Number 12?' because one in 12 people worldwide are liv ing with either chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C. While this is far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, awareness is inexplicably low and a majority of those infected are unaware. Dr Harmeet Singh Saluja, consultant gastroenterologist of SPS Apollo Hospitals, said, “Hepatitis simply means inflammation of the liver and can be caused by a wide range of things. One of the most common causes of chronic (longterm) hepatitis is viral infection.
Hepatitis B and C are two such viruses and together kill approximately 1 million people a year. Around 500 million people around the world are currently infected with chronic Hepatitis B or C and one in three people have been exposed to one or both viruses. Unlike Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B can be prevented through effective vaccination. If you think you may be at risk, it is important that you get tested.”
About the prevalence of this disease in Punjab, Dr Varun Mehta, assistant professor of gastroenterology, Department of gastroenterology at DMCH, said, “Hepatitis B and C virus is spread through blood. While the virus of Hepatitis A and E spreads through contaminated food and drinking water.” He said, “In Punjab, Malerkotla, Gurdaspur and Amritsar, have the maximum number of patients suffering from Hepatitis C.”
Dr Jagdeep Singh, consultant gastroenterologist at Apollo Hospital, said Hepatitis B virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood as well as most major body fluids, including blood, semen, sweat, tears and breast milk. The Hepatitis C virus is spread through direct contact with infected blood.
Rarely it may be passed on through other body fluids.
“Many people do not have any symptoms if they contract Hepatitis B or C, although they can still transmit the viruses to others. ”