28 July World Hepatitis Day: “Test. Treat. Hepatitis”… Timely testing and treatment of hepatitis B and C can save lives
Today is World Hepatitis Day. The theme this year is “Test. Treat. Hepatitis” Timely testing and treatment of hepatitis B and C can save lives and ultimately eliminate viral hepatitis. Let’s revise some key points about viral hepatitis:
Hepatitis B is the most infectious of the three blood-borne viruses: Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
Absence of jaundice does not rule out acute hepatitis infection, which can present sometimes only with constitutional symptoms such as fever, vomiting, poor appetite, lethargy with high liver enzymes.
People at risk for HIV infection are also at risk for Hepatitis B and C infections due to their shared routes of transmission.
All people with HIV infection should be tested for hepatitis B and C infections.
Progression of liver disease is faster in viral hepatitis.
HIV coinfection increases the risk of serious, potentially fatal complications.
Can Hepatitis B be transmitted ?
Hepatitis B can also be transmitted by fomites such as such as finger-stick devices used to obtain blood for glucose measurements, multi-dose medication vials, jet gun injectors, and endoscopes.
Hepatitis B virus is 10 times more infectious than hepatitis C virus and 50-100 times more infectious than HIV.
The Hepatitis B virus can survive in dried blood for up to 7 days and remains capable of causing infection. This makes hepatitis B a more dangerous infection than HIV.
Any blood spills from a person with hepatitis B should be cleaned up with appropriate infection control procedures e.g. wearing gloves, and using an appropriate cleaning product for the surface, such as diluted bleach or detergent and warm water.
Any scratch, cut and wound should be cleaned with soap and water and covered with a waterproof dressing or plaster. Expressing fluid by squeezing the wound will not reduce the risk of blood-borne infection.
Is Hepatitis B preventable ?
Hepatitis B is preventable; hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for high-risk people or those living with HIV who have tested negative for hepatitis B virus.
All unvaccinated persons should be administered hepatitis B vaccine after exposure to blood. If the exposed blood is positive for HBV and the exposed person is unvaccinated, treatment with hepatitis B immunoglobulin is recommended.
Hepatitis C virus can survive on environmental surfaces for up to 16 hours. It can also spread from infected fluid splashes to the conjunctiva.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
(Part of newsletter)