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Awareness must on the silent killer

Awareness must on the silent killer
Highlights

Every year on July 28, WHO and partners mark World Hepatitis Day to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes

Every year on July 28, WHO and partners mark World Hepatitis Day to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes. Viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E – affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. But hepatitis remains largely ignored or unknown.

On World Hepatitis Day, WHO and partners would urge policymakers, health workers and the public to 'Think again' about this silent killer. World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions – Strengthening, prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases; increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration of the vaccine into national immunization programmes; coordinating a global response to viral hepatitis.

July 28 was chosen to mark the birthday of Professor Baruch Blumberg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in discovering the hepatitis B virus. He said: ‘It's good to know that my birthday will be remembered in this unusual and unexpected way. It is time everyone woke up to the fact the Hepatitis is as much a danger as HIV. According to Dr Bhavani Raju, renowned gastroenterologist, at CARE Hospitals Banjara Hills, “Hepatitis is a largely overlooked disease, we need to create awareness amongst people, to make them understand that it is as important to weed out hepatitis in our state as it was to wipe out polio or to spread awareness about HIV.”

Here are a few things you might not know about Hepatitis:

1. Get tested if you have had a blood transfusion: Blood transfusion can transmit hepatitis C. According to Dr Bhavani Raju, ‘If you have had a blood transfusion before the year 2002, get yourself tested for the condition. This is because, blood banks all over the nation started testing blood for the presence of Hepatitis C only after 2002. That being said, anyone who was transfused before that should get tested immediately.’

2. Pregnant mothers beware: If you are pregnant or are planning to conceive anytime soon, get tested for hepatitis. This is because the virus that causes Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to child.

3. Don’t wait for the symptoms: Dr Bhavani Raju says, ‘By the time any symptoms manifest, it is usually too late to do anything.

4. Be aware of the types: There are four types of hepatitis. Hepatitis A is commonly called jaundice. Caused due to a food borne virus, it leads to excess bile secretion, and malfunctioning of the liver.

5. Get vaccinated: There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B, but not for C. The hepatitis A vaccine is administered as two injections and the vaccine for Hepatitis B is administered over a period of three injections.

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