|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2017 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 330-331
Viral hepatitis: an unsung killer disease
Raja Danasekaran MBBS, MD , Kalaivani Annadurai, Geetha Mani
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Nellikuppam, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Submission||30-Aug-2016|
|Date of Acceptance||06-Dec-2016|
|Date of Web Publication||25-Jul-2017|
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Thiruporur Guduvanchery Main Road, Ammapettai Village, Sembakkam Post, Chenagalpattu Taluk, Kancheepuram District, Nellikuppam - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Danasekaran R, Annadurai K, Mani G. Viral hepatitis: an unsung killer disease. Menoufia Med J 2017;30:330-1
Viral hepatitis is a widespread disease and has affected ∼400 million people globally, which is 10 times more than the number affected by HIV, and 6–10 million people are newly infected every year. According to WHO, 1.45 million people have died in 2013 owing to viral hepatitis. More than 95% of the infected people are not aware about their illness. Because of the absence of proper national policies or regulations in most of the countries and owing to the high cost of drugs, complete cure is a daydream for most of those with the disease .
Hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E) are the most common causes of hepatitis in the world, and the condition can be self-limiting or could progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Viral hepatitis is of serious concern because of high rates of morbidity as well as mortality and its potentiality of causing outbreaks. Hepatitis B and C, in particular, are the major causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer affecting millions of people worldwide. Hepatitis A and E spread by intake of contaminated water or food. Hepatitis B, C, and D spread by parenteral contact with infected body fluids by means of mother-to-child transmission, sexual contact, transfusion of infected blood or blood products, and also by usage of infected equipments during medical procedures .
Among the 1.4 million people dying owing to the disease, 47% of the cases are because of hepatitis B, 48% are because of hepatitis C, and the remaining because of hepatitis A and E. Viral hepatitis is also becoming increasingly associated with HIV, leading to high mortality. More than 2.6 million HIV-infected people are coinfected with hepatitis B, and ∼2.9 million are coinfected with hepatitis C. Globally, 150 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection, and more than 240 million have chronic hepatitis B infection. With the current disease trends, without any immediate response, the total number of deaths owing to hepatitis B would be more than 20 million during the period of 2015–2030 .
World Health Assembly in May 2016 has come out with the Global Health Sector Strategy on viral hepatitis with a major target of treating 8 million people infected with viral hepatitis B or C by 2020. The long-term goal is to reduce the newer hepatitis infections to less than 90% and reduce the number of deaths owing to viral hepatitis by 65% by 2030 . Effective vaccine and treatment are available for hepatitis B, whereas there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but many newer effective treatment options are available. Effective oral antivirals can cure more than 90% of patients within 3–6 months ,.
More than 184 countries have introduced hepatitis B vaccine in their immunization schedule. Blood safety strategies, safer sex practices, screening of mothers, and safe injection practices have to be followed routinely to prevent the transmission of the disease. World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 every year, aims to raise the awareness about hepatitis among the people, and the theme for 2016 is 'Know Hepatitis and Act Now' . To achieve the goal of eliminating hepatitis by 2030, all the nations should act immediately to increase the awareness about the disease among the public, ensure easy access to testing centers, and provide complete treatment at affordable cost.
The authors thank the Head of the Department Dr Jegadeesh Ramasamy for his encouragement and support in preparing this article.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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