'Hepatitis C' 83 percent more prevalent in north India
New Delhi: Infections of hepatitis C are 83 per cent more prevalent among people living in north India, says a report from SRL Diagnostics.
Hepatitis, with five types of viruses namely A, B, C, D and E, refers to the inflammation of liver and can be self-limiting or progress, causing liver fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.
The virus is transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
The alarming report showed that of among people living in north India, hepatitis A and B are also prevalent with 41 per cent and 52 per cent respectively.
Hepatitis C Virus is caused by a virus which infects the liver and over time causes scarring of the liver, thus preventing it from working normally.
The infection is contracted commonly through exposure to injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products, or sexual contact with an infected person.
Further, Hepatitis E Virus was found most common (24 per cent) laboratory diagnosed viral hepatitis in India, was followed by Hepatitis A Virus (11 per cent), the report noted.
"Despite as many as 400 million people being affected by the disease globally, Hepatitis has largely been ignored as a health and development priority until recently," Avinash Phadke, President Technology & Mentor (Clinical Pathology) from SRL Diagnostics said in a statement.
"For Hepatitis E and Hepatitis A Virus infections, hygiene and sanitation play a major role, while for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Virus, lifestyle and awareness are extremely important" he added.
The report also revealed that Hepatitis C infection was more common in middle age to old age groups of 31-60 years, while Hepatitis E and A infections were particularly common in the young adult age group of 16-30 years.
Hepatitis B was more or less evenly spread in all age groups between 16 and 85 years.
The results are based on tests from 10 lakh samples carried out at SRL labs, across the country, between January 2015 and June 2018.
According to the 2017 report shared by WHO, India has 40 million people chronically infected with hepatitis B and approximately 12 million people chronically infected with hepatitis C.
However, "over 95 per cent of people with chronic hepatitis do not know they are infected and therefore, succumb to liver cirrhosis or cancer," said Subhash Gupta, Chairman, from the Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket.
"The treatment process becomes extremely delayed because the diagnosis only takes place at the end stage," Gupta said.
A balanced and healthy lifestyle with controlled consumption of alcohol and tobacco is necessary to fight the disease that is an alarming public health concern in India.
In addition, maintaining hygiene, avoiding roadside food and beverage, being careful in salons and tattoo parlours for avoiding infections, washing hands can help protect us from hepatitis, the experts suggested.