Published: Sun, July 29, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Hepatitis Cases Are Increasing

Hepatitis Cases Are Increasing

Countries in the region have committed to eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030. Around four million people in South Africa are chronically infected with hepatitis B and C. City Health's drive in marking World Hepatitis Day is to encourage testing and to ensure a healthy lifestyle, which includes good personal and environmental hygiene.

Another virus, the Hepatitis C virus, is also emerging as a major cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said in a statement: "We have a clear vision for elimination, and we have the tools to do it".

A large turnout of public representing all walks of life was witnessed at Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) on Friday to avail the free screening and diagnostic facilities for Hepatitis as a part of World Hepatitis Day.

World Hepatitis Day is being celebrated every year on 28 July with the aim of bringing together the whole world under one single theme to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and the impact it has worldwide.

Information about World Hepatitis Day is usually distributed via social media, newspapers, posters, and through the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Free hepatitis testing in downtown PG
Urgent increase in hepatitis testing and treatment needed

This huge undiagnosed population are at high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and are silently transmitting and infecting others in various ways. The virus can cause either acute or chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.

"Worldwide, 300 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware", the United Nations said. Around 1.34 million deaths occur every year due to viral hepatitis. The discussion topics included availability of cheap substandard kits; screening technology options for hepatitis detection, rising prevalence of hepatitis among blood donors, and high hepatitis B and C prevalence among thalassaemia patients. These advances have now made hepatitis C a curable infection in most instances.

Criticism of the government's reluctance to include vaccination for Hepatitis B in the infant immunisation program had till recently fallen on deaf ears.

The hepatitis B virus is a blood-borne virus. Reinvigorated action and investments in viral hepatitis are necessary to achieve a world where transmission is halted and everyone living with viral hepatitis has access to safe, affordable and effective care and treatment.

Various blood tests are available to diagnose cases of hepatitis. Around 70-80% of people with Hepatitis B or C do not even have any symptoms.

The report also revealed that Hepatitis C infection was more common in middle age to old age groups of 31-60 years, while Hepatitis E and A infections were common among young adults in the age group of 16-30 years.

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