Medical Experts across India Call for More Education, Awareness on World Hepatitis Day

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IMPHAL, July 27: A press release of Abbott, a global healthcare company has said that

“Hepatitis viruses constitute a major health risk as they cause acute and chronic infection and inflammation of the liver leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Experts in India are calling for greater focus around hepatitis education and screening among high-risk communities and populations in India”.

“Dr Anil Arora, Chairman and HOD – Department of Gastroenterology And Hepatology, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi says “Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections are ‘silent’ diseases that remain asymptomatic for decades.  Due to lower awareness, more than 80% HCV patients and over 60% patients with HBV are diagnosed at a stage when the disease is irreversible. Unhygienic use of needles in acupuncture and tattooing has significant potential in spreading the infections. Alcoholics are also 2-3 times more prone for developing Hepatitis B & C. In my practice, I am seeing more and more youngsters fall prey to Hepatitis infections. If anyone has symptoms such as jaundice, continued fatigue, itching all over the body, fever and abdominal pain they must be tested for Hepatitis for timely diagnosis and treatment.”

“As for Hepatitis C, one out of every hundred persons in India may be chronically infected by the virus and most among these 12 million persons do not know they are infected.4   Prevalence of Hepatitis C has been observed to be relatively higher in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.  Interestingly, several studies conducted in these states highlight different risk factors which are believed to have led to the relatively higher prevalence of the condition”, the statement said.

“The prevalence of HCV is also found to be high in some states in Northeast India. A study conducted in Arunachal Pradesh showed a prevalence of 7.89%.7 It has been noted that unsafe behaviour among injecting drug users is the driving factor behind HCV epidemics in Northeast India”, it said.

Further according to the statement, Dr N Biplab Singh, Professor – Department of Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal said “It is alarming to see high prevalence of Hepatitis B and C infections in Northeast India specifically in Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.  A recent study done in Mizoram showed that prevalence of HCV was 71.2 per cent among the active injection drug addicts.8  Studies done in Manipur have revealed that the prevalence of Hepatitis C among patients with chronic liver disease was 46.21% and the co-infection with HIV-HCV among chronic liver disease was 18%. The highest number of HCV cases was found in two districts of Manipur – Imphal West (36.81%) and Churachandpur district (21.6).”

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