World Hepatitis Day : In Conversation with a Gastroenterologist!

400 million people are infected with Hepatitis worldwide. Hepatitis is responsible for 400 deaths per day and also accounts for 80% of liver cancers. On the occasion of World Hepatitis Day, Dr Rajnish Monga, has a conversation with Paras Blog Editors.

  • It is believed that a simple blood test can save over 80% of Hepatitis C and over 60% of Hepatitis B patients?

Simple blood tests can detect Hepatitis B and C at an early stage before liver damage. If Hepatitis remains undetected the same can complicate into cirrhosis and liver cancer. The simple blood tests are HBsAg for Hepatitis B and Anti HCV antibody for Hepatitis C.

  • Even if a person is detected with Hepatitis after getting his blood tested. What are the ways to prevent the diseases from reaching an extreme stage?

If a person is detected to have either of the two viral infections on screening, he can be treated appropriately by the liver specialists / gastroenterologists with good end results. It is now believed that severe liver disease due to hepatitis B and C viruses can be prevented, and the progression can be stopped and even partly reversed with the current available medication.

  • Are people aware of getting their blood test done to prevent Hepatitis?

There is little awareness amongst the public about Hepatitis B and C. Most of the time these viruses are detected during blood donation or health checkups or family screening of patients. Hepatitis B awareness is more than Hepatitis C which is relatively a newly discovered virus. E need to ensure that people are forthcoming for their detection tests and are ready to opt for vaccination for the same.

  • Can blood test prevent patients from all sorts of Hepatitis?

Blood tests don’t prevent Hepatitis. They can detect the virus before it causes damage to the liver hence preventing cirrhosis and liver cancer. Other causes of hepatitis include Hepatitis A and E, alcohol, medications etc.

World Hepatitis Day

  • What are the other ways Hepatitis can be prevented apart from vaccinations?
  • Public education should be provided regarding modes of spread of hepatitis viruses.
  • Use of clean drinking water to prevent Hepatitis A and E.
  • Vaccination for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A.
  • Good regulation and blood bank practices.
  • Good health care practices like use of disposable needles and syringes, proper sterilization of equipment by dentists and surgeons.
  • Screening of all mothers during pregnancy to prevent mother to child transmission.
  • What are the other tests to check the severity of hepatitis infection as well as health of your liver?

The other tests to check for liver status are

  • Blood tests called the liver function tests
  • Radiology tests like ultrasound, CT scan and fibroscan.