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Late Hepatitis diagnosis killing people: Doctors

Last Updated: Sunday, July 28, 2013 - 23:14

Kolkata: Delayed diagnosis of Hepatitis has been allowing the killer disease to take more lives, experts said on the World Hepatitis Day on Sunday.

"Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections are `silent` diseases that remain asymptomatic for decades. Due to lower awareness, more than 80 per cent HCV patients and over 60 per cent patients with HBV are diagnosed at a stage when the disease is irreversible," Dr Anil Arora, head of the department of gastroenterology and hepatology at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, said in a statement.

He pointed out that unhygienic use of needles in acupuncture and tattooing has significant potential in spreading the infections while alcoholics are also 2-3 times more prone for developing Hepatitis B and C.

"In my practise, 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," the doctor suggested.

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.

Dr P K Sethy, senior consultant gastroenterologist from Medica Super-speciality Hospital in Kolkata, said most people with Hepatitis B or C are even unaware that they are infected with the virus.

"A concerted campaign on awareness and counselling is a must. It is not just about the usual posters and leaflets, but a lot of psychological counselling is necessary in cases of drug users. The challenge really is to overcome addiction and unsafe practises together," he said.

Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E are estimated to be among the top ten causes of death in India. According to the World Health Organisation, 240 million people globally are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and around 150 million chronically infected with Hepatitis C.

Prevalence of Hepatitis C has been observed to be relatively higher in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.


First Published: Sunday, July 28, 2013 - 23:14

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