Just one in 10 infected know their status and many are unaware that the inflamation of the liver is a common and treatable disease
More than 40 million people are victims of hepatitis in India today. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Hepatitis infection can happen to anyone at any time, and needn’t be accompanied by shame or guilt. It is a common and treatable disease.
More than 40 million people are victims of hepatitis in India today. Hepatitis kills 1,000 people every year. Although effective remedies are available to prevent the disease and its infection, many are not aware of its cause and symptoms.
Hepatitis is a type of inflammation in the liver. This condition can be restricted to either or severe form and may take the form of fibrosis or liver cancer. Just one in ten people infected with the disease know their status. Effective treatments exists from basic hygiene to the hepatitis B vaccine but stigma and discrimination against patients is common.
Only 5 per cent of those eligible for treatment actually received anti-virus showed a study. Around 94 million people were eligible for treatment in 2016, but just 4.8 million of them got it. India lacks a mechanism to compile data to give a clear picture of its prevalence.
Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of parenteral contact with infected body fluids.
Common modes of transmission of these viruses include transfusion of contaminated blood or blood products, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment; in the case of hepatitis B, the virus gets transmitted from mother to baby at birth, from family member to child, and also by sexual contact. The government of India has included vaccine of hepatitis B in its vaccination programme.
However, hepatitis C has failed to receive the attention of the government so far. Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV). About eight out of 10 people infected with HCV develop permanent (chronic) infection.
Hepatitis C is a blood borne-disease. As in the case of HIV/AIDS, it spreads through contact with infected blood and shared needles, particularly among drug users. The main sources of HCV are injected drugs and unsafe blood.
Those who are at risk include healthcare workers exposed to infected blood (though accidental needle prick, for example), children born to HCV-infected mothers, long-term dialysis patients, and people who have multiple sex partners.
HCV does not spread by sneezing, hugging, coughing, food or water, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or casual contact.
The disease can range in severity from mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong condition that can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
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