Find the missing millions
July 23, 2020
About 290 million people are living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C unaware of their infection. 9 out of 10 people infected with the virus don’t know about their infection and so do not get treated. This is a dangerous situation. If left untreated, the virus can cause long-term damage to the liver leading to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. These life threatening conditions can be prevented with timely diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Finding these missing millions who are missing their treatment is the theme of this World Hepatitis Day.
Why are hepatitis B and hepatitis C under-diagnosed?
Most people infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. Even if they do have symptoms they may show up as late as 6 months from infection.Moreover these viral infection might have been transmitted during childbirth, so remains unrecognised through out the life. The onset of symptoms may be so gradual that they may not be aware of it in the early stages. Knowing the risks of infection and knowing if you have been exposed to the virus are key factors in determining whether you get tested for it early or not. The earlier you get tested and treated, the better your chances of preventing liver damage.
Symptoms of hepatitis B and hepatitis C
Symptoms of hepatitis may develop gradually, but if you know what they are, you may be able to identify them in the early stages to get treated.
- Jaundice- yellow skin and eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea/ vomiting
- Pale stool
- Dark urine
- Joint pain
- Rarely Itching
Risk factors of hepatitis B and hepatitis C
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C spread through infected blood and blood products. You are at increased risk if you
- Share razors, needles, toothbrushes
- Were born to a hepatitis positive mother
- Are a health worker who is exposed to blood
- Have had unprotected sex
- injection drug abuse
- Have had a piercing or a tattoo
- Share medical equipment such as glucose monitor
- Undergoing dialysis
In India, teens and young adults are at higher risk of having undetected hepatitis. If you are in the high risk group, or have any of the symptoms, you have to consult your doctor. A blood test will detect if you have the infection.
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