World Hepatitis Day
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19 May 2010
By Avanindra Mishra
Hepatitis: Downward trend, says SMS Though Cases Have Gone Down By 25% Since ’93, Doctors Feel Ignorance Can Be Fatal
Data collected from the SMS blood bank indicates that the cases of hepatitis have come down over the past few years. Hepatitis positive samples received at the blood bank registered a decrease of almost 25% from 1993 to 2009. The success is being attributed to the rise in awareness levels.
“Of the 47,750 blood samples tested at the bank in 1993, 3.57% tested positive for Hepatitis B and 0.95% for hepatitis C. In 2009, out of 38,850 samples tested, 2.5% were found to be positive for hepatitis B and 0.75% were tested positive for hepatitis C,” said Dr Ramesh Rooprai, former head of department gastroenterology, SMS Medical College & Hospital.
SMS blood bank caters to a large number of recipients from all parts of Rajasthan and the above mentioned figures could serve as an indicator. However, all said and done, hepatitis still remains a common and fatal disease, infecting nearly one in every 12 persons across the world. The disease shows chronic infection in almost one–fourth of the patients.
“About 25% adults who become chronically infected during childhood later die from liver cancer or cirrhosis of liver caused by the chronic infection,” said Dr Abhinav Sharma, consultant gastroenterologist, Fortis Escort’s Hospital.
The reduced efficiency and long treatment also take a toll on productivity of the masses. Chronic symptoms usually begin to show during the age group of 25–40 years and cause various disorders. A chronic patient may show lack of concentration, weakness, sleep disorder and compromised immunity. May 19 is observed as World Hepatitis Day.
The long intractability and lack of awareness towards the issue, however, makes the disease a major concern for public health. “The hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. Usually chronic hepatitis is asymptomatic and if symptoms are there, these are subtle in nature. Due to this chronic hepatitis often remains undetected for a long time,” Dr Sharma said.