`Hepatitis on rise in India due to ignorance`

New Delhi: World Hepatitis Day was observed in Delhi Friday with doctors stating that lack of awareness was the cause for increasing spread of the virus in India.

"The overriding reason for the spread of Hepatitis is the lack of awareness of the disease and its prevention," said Subhash Gupta, senior consultant of liver transplant at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital here.

According to a World Health Organisation report, nearly 75 percent of those suffering from Hepatitis live in Asia. In India, around 1.09 crore people suffer from chronic Hepatitis C with a greater proportion of cases reported from the northeast.

"Despite Hepatitis being the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after tobacco, every one in 12 persons worldwide suffer from either chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C," Gupta said.

Hepatitis is a viral infection which is communicable in nature. It is spread through body contact and fluid exchange. There are five varieties of Hepatitis - Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

"Nearly 10 percent of Hepatitis B victims battle long-term liver infection and Hepatitis C is very difficult to treat. In many cases, Hepatitis B causes irreparable liver damage, leading to death," Gupta said.

"While Hepatitis A and E are spread through food and water, Hepatitis B, C and D are spread through contaminated blood and blood products, infected needles," he added.

He said Hepatitis can be prevented with simple precautions.

"Prevention is possible through avoiding consumption of contaminated food and water. Vaccination is also available," he said.


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