Hepatitis- A silent killer
World Hepatitis Day – July 28th
This year WHO has taken a significant step to eliminate Hepatitis by 2030- “NOHep Campaign 2030”.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is the liver infection and inflammation (swelling) caused commonly by various viruses, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E. A and E type are short term infection and known as acute infection however B, C and D type are long-term infection and called as chronic hepatitis. Second one may lead to some life threatening complications including cirrhosis means liver scarring, liver cancer, liver failure requiring liver transplant.
Why is it important?
More than 400 million population are infected with these deadly viruses and off them 95% are not aware of this. Every year a new 10 million people are infected with this virus which is massively increasing the burden of the disease. In fact this virus is 4 times more common than the HIV virus. Because this virus does not cause any symptoms like pain, only 1% of the infected patients seek for treatment. By the time patient gets symptoms like jaundice, swelling of tummy, blood vomiting, it is too late and the permanent damage has already happened. The only permanent treatment then would be transplant. Hence it is important that we test for this virus and treat it.
How is this virus transmitted?
Hepatitis A and E viruses are transmitted through contaminated food and water. Generally they cause harmless, self limiting infections but very rarely they cause acute liver failure. Hepatitis B, C and D are transmitted through blood or body fluid contact like through sharing needles, razors, brushes, equipment injecting cosmetic substances, blood transfusions, dialysis and also commonly sexually transmission. Mother to baby transmission particularly in Hepatitis B is well known hence it is important that pregnant women should be tested and treated for this virus and also the baby should be vaccinated. Vaccines are available for both type hepatitis A and B.
Are treatments available for Hepatitis?
Yes there are. For Hepatitis A &E, general supportive measures, no specific treatment needed. For Hepatitis B &C, there are new drugs which are available now and have excellent cure rates.
World Hepatitis Day- NOHep
We are at a turning point for viral hepatitis. We have the tools; we have the commitment; what we need now is action. The movement, called “NOhep”, aims to unite people working in the field of hepatitis and others throughout the world around one common purpose: the elimination of viral hepatitis. This strategy has been fully endorsed by WHO’s 194 Member States, who signed on to the goal of eliminating hepatitis B and hepatitis C as public health threats by 2030.
We at Apollo hospitals have recently conducted a mass Hepatitis campaign at 29 districts on the 19th June 2016. At some districts the incidence of virus was almost 10%. These patients are getting actively treated as part of our initiative. We also have dedicated liver specialised clinics and also active liver transplant program.
Dr Naveen Polavarapu
MBBS, MRCP(Edin), MRCP (London), FRCP(Gastro), CCST(Gastro)
Consultant Medical Gastroenterology & Transplant Hepatology, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills Hyderabad