Why Hepatitis C incidents are more common in north India and what you can do about it

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Infections of hepatitis C are 83% are more prevalent among people living in north India, says a report from SRL Diagnostics. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and can be self-limiting or progress, causing liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. There are five types of viruses, namely Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D and Hepatitis E. World Hepatitis Day is marked on July 28.

“Despite 400 million people being affected by the disease globally, hepatitis has largely been ignored as a health and development priority until recently,” said Avinash Phadke, President-Technology & Mentor (Clinical Pathology) from SRL Diagnostics. “For Hepatitis E and Hepatitis A virus infections, hygiene and sanitation play a major role, while for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, lifestyle and awareness are extremely important” he added.

The virus is transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. The alarming report showed that among people living in north India, hepatitis A and B is also prevalent. Hepatitis C Virus is caused by a virus which infects the liver and over time causes scarring of the liver, thus preventing it from working normally.

The infection is contracted through exposure to injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, or sexual contact with an infected person. Further, Hepatitis E virus was the most found laboratory diagnosed viral hepatitis in India, followed by Hepatitis A virus, the report noted.

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. Hepatitis B was more or less evenly spread in all age groups between 16 and 85 years.

According to the 2017 report shared by WHO, India has 40 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and approximately 12 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C. However, “over 95% of people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected and therefore, succumb to liver cirrhosis or cancer,” said Subhash Gupta, Chairman, from the Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket.

“The treatment process becomes extremely delayed because the diagnosis only takes place at the end stage,” Gupta said.

A balanced and healthy lifestyle with controlled consumption of alcohol and tobacco is necessary to fight the disease that is an alarming public health concern in India. In addition, maintaining hygiene, avoiding roadside food and beverage, being careful in salons and tatoo parlours for avoiding infections and washing hands can help protect us from hepatitis, the experts suggested.

Agencies

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