Infection by hepatitis B and hepatitis C and presence of fatty liver especially with diabetes predisposes to the development of irreversible liver damage (cirrhosis) and its complications including liver cancer, thus affecting the quality and quantity of life, along with the added financial burden. These causes of liver disease are preventable and treatable if diagnosed earlier in their course. The average prevalence of hepatitis B infection is 3-4 percent and of hepatitis C is 0.09-15% in India depending on the region. In India, about 4-crore people are chronically infected with Hepatitis B and 60 lakhs to 1.2 crores people with Hepatitis C.
Who Should Be Screened for Hepatitis B and C?
People who need to be screened for hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections include:
- All pregnant women
- Recipients of multiple blood/blood products transfusion
- Patients on hemodialysis,
- People who inject drugs
- Female sex worker
- Sexual partners of infected people
- Truck drivers,
- Close first degree relatives and family members
- Mother, children, siblings and spouse of individuals affected with viral hepatitis
Intervention to prevent the advancement of the disease in pregnant women is particularly more challenging because, during the gestation period, the disease does not manifest itself through any specific symptoms.
India may have at least 2.5 crore patients with NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) who may be at risk for significant liver disease (considering 5% of 1000 million Indians to be diabetic and prevalence of NAFLD to be in at least 50 percent of these diabetics).
MBBS, MD, DM
Sr. Consultant Gastroenterologist,
Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, New Delhi