27 July 2011
By, Durgesh Nandan Jha
New Delhi, India
Disease 30 Times More Prevalent Than HIV
With the World Hepatitis Day being observed for the first time this year on Thursday, July 28, by the World Health Organization (WHO), city doctors said there is a need to create more awareness and step up preventive measures.
According to Dr M P Sharma, head of the department of gastroenterology at Rockland Hospital, “Types B and C are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer . People also run the risk of contracting hepatitis B through sexual transmission with an infected individual.
“Vaccines are available for hepatitis B and in some states, it has been included in the universal immunization programme. Mother-to-child transmission is one of the causes of hepatitis in children, so pregnant women should be screened for the disease and vaccinated on time. Blood banks need to screen properly and dispose of infected blood because transfusion is one of the mediums for the spread of the disease.”
Asenior doctor at AIIMS said hepatitis B and Calso spread through injections.
“Hepatitis A and E are spread through faecooral transmission. It is present in the faece of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food,” said Dr Anoop Saraya, professor, gastroenterology department at AIIMS.
Dr A S Puri, head of the department of gastroenterology at G B Pant Hospital, said they have come across many cases in which unsterilized tattoo equipment or contaminated ink was the cause of a Hepatitis C infection.
“Hepatitis C is a stealth virus. It can hide in liver cells for years and manifest itself as cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure," said Dr Puri. He said body piercing was another cause along with intravenous drug abuse. Hepatitis viruses are 30 times more prevalent than HIV in Southeast Asia. However, due to the asymptomatic nature of these infections, about 60% of infected individuals remain unaware they are infected, until they show symptoms of cirrhosis or liver cancer; this may take over 20 years. Both cirrhosis and liver cancer are irreversible and cause death.