‘Hepatitis-B serious than cancer, HIV but preventable’

Bhubaneswar: Cancer and the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) are dreaded words worldwide. But generally, the Hepatitis-B infection is
less discussed and feared though it is a killer and 100 times more infectious
than HIV because people are not yet aware about the threat it poses.
This ignorance is causing at least one million deaths across
the world while there are at least 350 million infected persons in the planet,
46 million of them in India alone, battling the scourge, experts told a media
conference here on Friday ahead of the World Hepatitis Day on July 28.
 “More people worry
about contracting AIDS but Hepatitis-B is a much more virulent infection that
destroys the liver. Most people who are infected with Hepatitis-B are unaware
of their infection and are at high risk of developing severe chronic liver
disease. They can unknowingly transmit the infection to other people,” Dr.
Manoj Sahu, Associate Professor and head in the Gastroenterology and Hepatology
department of IMS and Sum Hospital, run by the SOA University, told media
Ironically, Dr. Sahu said, Hepatitis-B can be prevented
through administration of a safe and effective vaccine which has been available
since 1982. “This vaccine has an outstanding record of safety and effectiveness
which can be administered at any age or even during pregnancy,” he said.
 “A single shot of the
vaccine is enough to protect a person for at least 20 years or even lifelong.
Besides, those who have been diagnosed with the infection very early, effective
treatments are available which can control and cure the infection. A simple
screening test is required for the early diagnosis of the disease,” Dr. Sahu
Dr. Sahu said that screening for the Hepatitis-B infection
and vaccination was available free at IMS and Sum Hospital for any person and
people should take advantage of this facility.
“On one side is this deadly virus which causes chronic liver
disease leading to liver cancer and death, on the other is the availability of
a very effective and safe vaccine to prevent this infection. We must chose life
and protect ourselves,” he said.
Prof. D.K.Roy, Medical Director of IMS and Sum Hospital, who
was present, said an “Umbrella Rally” by students and other activists would be
held in the city on July 28 under the banner of the Centre of Health Awareness
(CHA), an organization floated by SOA University to create awareness about the
threat posed by Hepatitis-B.
Dr. P.K.Mohanty, Medical Superintendent of Sum Hospital, Dr.
E.Venkat Rao, Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine at IMS and
Sum Hospital, Dr. Manas Panigrahi of Gastroenterology department and Ms.
Pravati Tripathy, Dean of the Sum Nursing College and Convenor of CHA, spoke on
the occasion.


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