At least one lakh people die in the country every year due to liver failure and liver cancer caused by the deadly Hepatitis B virus, a leading expert in the field has said.
“Hepatitis-B, which has 46 million Indians in its grip, is a much bigger scourge than AIDS. But unfortunately, awareness in the country about this killer infection is abysmal,” said Dr Manoj Kumar Sahu, Associate Professor at the Centre of Gastro-intestinal, Liver and Pancreatic Diseases run by the IMS and SUM Hospital here, while speaking to students of different schools at a free hepatitis screening workshop at the CRPF campus here recently as part of a campaign launched by the premier hospital.
“The incidence of diseases caused by the Hepatitis B virus, he said, is higher primarily because of lack of awareness about the infection and its prevention. A very safe and effective Hepatitis-B vaccine is available since 1982, but not many people have got vaccinated yet because of lack of awareness,” he said.
Effective treatment, Dr Sahu said, could be taken up and spread of the disease can be arrested if the infection is diagnosed at an early stage. If a pregnant woman has Hepatitis-B in her blood, the baby should receive protective injections after the birth to prevent the infection, he said while addressing the awareness programme organized by the IMS and SUM Hospital.
There is no age bar for vaccination, he clarified.
Someone, who has the infection and the disease in an advanced stage, would require liver transplant for survival. But since it is difficult for the average person to afford the treatment, it is always advisable to prevent the infection, he said.