Screening public for 'hepatitis' virus

Published: 30th July 2013 08:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th July 2013 08:11 AM   |  A+A-


Morning walkers at Elliot’s Beach and people who visited the Vandalur Zoo had a value-add on Sunday morning — they got their livers checked, courtesy Global Health City’s free hepatitis screening camp.

It is estimated that 1 in 12 people around the world carry or had hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Approximately, four in 100 Indians are infected with Hepatitis B virus and one in 100 Indians are infected with Hepatitis C virus. It is estimated that 40 million people in India carry hepatitis B virus.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Dinesh Jothimani, Senior Consultant Liver Transplant Physician, said, “With little awareness about hepatitis among people across the globe, World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to create a public interest and educate common man about this deadly infectious disease. Chronic viral hepatitis is a ‘silent killer’. People do not develop any symptoms until late in their illness. Therefore, most of them who carry do not know they have the virus, until their liver becomes completely scarred over decades leading to ‘cirrhosis’. Cirrhosis leads to liver failure, where the patient becomes jaundiced, develops bleeding and becomes confused; and cancer, which carries a high morbidity and mortality,” and added, “Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of primary liver cancer, in particular, Hepatitis B infection is the commonest reason around the world.

Liver cancer usually occurs in the setting of cirrhosis, but in Hepatitis B infection it occurs much early even in the absence of cirrhosis. In fact, many patients get diagnosed Hepatitis B when they actually present with liver cancer. A simple screening and a course of vaccination will prevent Hepatitis B virus infection. Awareness and screening camps will enable us to spread campaign against viral hepatitis and focus on specific treatment for patients with who are already infected.”

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