Hepatitis Survey reveals one out of 50 Bengalureans have Hepatitis B

-????????? BGS Global Hospitals in association with Integrated Liver Care Foundation launched the ?Bengaluru Hepatitis Project?

-????????? It is the first such study of its kind in India

-????????? Survey reveals the magnitude of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections

-????????? This survey is of paramount importance as the disease is silent, showing no symptoms

-????????? Easily treatable if detected. Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccination

[caption id="attachment_23034" align="alignleft" width="300"]Dr Sonal Asthana,  Dr Kaiser Raja,  Dr N. K. Venkataramana, & Dr. Mathew Jacob Dr Sonal Asthana, Dr Kaiser Raja, Dr N. K. Venkataramana, & Dr. Mathew Jacob[/caption]

26th July 2013, Bengaluru.? BGS Global Hospitals in association with Integrated Liver Care Foundation launched the ?Bengaluru Hepatitis Project? an on-going survey to collect data on Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections among the urban population of Bengaluru. Doctors of the liver team at BGS Global Hospitals have founded the ILC Foundation; a not-for-profit organization under the aegis of which, this study the first of its kind in the country, has been initiated and conducted. This is in keeping with the theme of World Hepatitis Day this year, ?This is Hepatitis. Know it. Confront It.?

The survey reveals that one in 50 in the city have Hepatitis B and one in 200 have Hepatitis C. These findings were the outcome of Free Hepatitis screening camps organized in various areas in the city. The results are indicative of the magnitude of the disease burden and sound an alert to Bengalureans to take preventive measures for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections. Awareness for these diseases is extremely low. To add to it, it is silent - majority of those infected are unaware of the infection since they do not have any symptoms. However they are easily treatable if detected early and can be completely prevented by getting vaccinated. Vaccinations are now available for Hepatitis B. If left untreated, both hepatitis B and C viruses can lead to liver cirrhosis which can cause complications such as bleeding, accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity, coma, liver cancer, liver failure and death.

Dr. Mathew Jacob, Senior Consultant, Hepatobiliary and Liver Transplant Surgery, BGS Global Hospitals said, ?Shockingly, about 3 crore people in India have chronic hepatitis B or C infection, far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer. However chronic viral hepatitis does not have the level of awareness seen with other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.?

Dr Sonal Asthana, Head, Hepatobiliary Surgery and Multi Organ Transplantation, BGS Global Hospitals, elaborating the details of the survey said, ?There is a high incidence of Hepatitis B viral infection in rural Karnataka. However, there is very little information about the prevalence of Hepatitis B in Bengaluru. The aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of the infections in different socioeconomic groups in various sections of society. This study is being carried out in partnership with the Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA), an NGO working with the urban poor in Bangalore as well as the Bangalore police. The screening camps conducted helped raise awareness, provided access to testing and treatment and influenced a real change in disease prevention. This is an ongoing project and we propose to screen and vaccinate around 20,000 people over a period of the next one year.?

Details of the survey:

The survey is a community based cross sectional study to assess the magnitude of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus infections. The screening is carried out in camps within the community with the help of volunteers among them. Each camp is preceded by an awareness program with distribution of educational leaflets in the community.

Paramedical staff and technicians from BGS Global Hospitals carry out free screening tests for detection of Hepatitis B and C with a blood sample on the spot. The person is counselled about the results and if found negative, offered vaccination at a subsidized cost. These vaccinations are subsidised by the ILC foundation. Those who are found to be positive are recommended to seek early treatment.

The Findings:

Presenting the first phase of the survey results, Dr. Kaiser Raja, Chief Hepatologist, BGS Global Hospitals said, ?Eight screening camps covering a total population of 1918 individuals have been conducted in the last 5 weeks. The screened population was 54% male. 78% of the population screened was under 40 years of age and 37 % (709) were children under the age of 15 years. We screened patients from the ages of 3 months to 87 years. The prevalence of Hepatitis B infection was 1.7% in the population screened, while the prevalence of Hepatitis C was 0.2%. ?The Hepatitis B positive group was predominantly male (64%), and the highest prevalence of Hepatitis B (51% of cases) was found in young people between 20 to 40 years of age. All patients who tested positive have been counselled and have attended the hospital for further treatment. Currently, 1716 people have received the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine.?

Dr N. K. Venkataramana, Vice-Chairman and Chief Neurosurgeon, BGS Global Hospitals, added, ?Through this survey the task on hand is evident, it is the collective responsibility of every individual to be aware of the disease and take preventive measures. It is in your hands to be safe from Hepatitis.?

About Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis B and C are both ?silent? diseases and most infected individuals have no symptoms.
  • If left untreated, both hepatitis B and C viruses can lead to liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis, leads to complications such as bleeding, ascites (accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity), coma, liver cancer, liver failure and death.
  • In the case of chronic hepatitis B, liver cancer may occur even before a person develops cirrhosis

How is it transmitted?

  • Adults get Hepatitis B or C through infected blood transfusion, contaminated needles and sexual transmission from a hepatitis B infected partner.
  • Children usually get Hepatitis B from their mother during childbirth if the mother is infected.

Demystifying the Myths:

  • Hepatitis B and C is not spread by air, food, water or by casual personal contact.

How is it diagnosed?

  • Hepatitis B and C can be easily diagnosed by a simple blood test.

Treatment

  • There are effective medications to treat Hepatitis B and C.

Prevention

  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent Hepatitis B. However, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis B can be prevented by avoiding direct contact with other people?s blood, practicing safe sex, not sharing combs, toothbrushes or other personal items and avoiding re-use of disposable needles. One should insist on disposable needles to be used.
  • This applies even when one goes in for body piercing, tattoos, or for a beauty treatment such as a pedicure, etc
  • Every parent should ensure that their new-born receives Hepatitis B vaccination.


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