Dr. Ramya Raghavan, Consultant Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefiled
How many of us know that viral Hepatitis is killing nearly 1.4 million people globally every year? And that worldwide, nearly 300 million people live with viral Hepatitis unaware? And that it also causes two in every three liver cancer deaths? This is the reason why World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, attempts to increase global awareness on Hepatitis, its prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Almost 100 countries now recognise World Hepatitis Day each year through events such as demonstrations, concerts, talk shows, free screenings, poster campaigns, flash mobs and vaccination drives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance prepare and publish a report on the events held across the globe each year.
Hepatitis, it is important to know, is an inflammatory condition of the liver. The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. The disease is caused by a viral infection though there could be other causes of hepatitis. For instance, a condition described as autoimmune Hepatitis results from medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.
Hepatitis B is an infectious Hepatitis caused by Hepatitis B virus (HBV). This infection can be both acute and chronic. Acute Hepatitis B is a newly acquired infection and individuals affected by the infection notice symptoms between 1 and 4 months after exposure to the virus. A small number of people can develop a life-threatening form of acute hepatitis called fulminant hepatitis. Chronic hepatitis B lasts longer than six months and is usually an infection that has to be dealt with in the longer-term.