While the prevalence of hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV) in the UAE is low, doctors underline that nearly 40-50 percent of patients may remain undiagnosed. As the UAE marks World Hepatitis Day on July 28, healthcare professionals aver citizens and residents should do annual blood checkups to know if there are any alterations in liver function tests and consequently check for the hepatitis virus.
Reflecting on the visible symptoms for hepatitis B and C, Dr. Hardik Parmar, Specialist Gastroenterologist, Medeor Hospital, Abu Dhabi says, “As people do not exhibit any symptoms, it is a bit dangerous. If you have acute hepatitis caused by any virus, you can see yellow eyes, yellow urine, weakness, vomiting, etc. You don’t usually have symptoms in the case of hepatitis B and C, which can cause chronic infection, liver cirrhosis, or cancer.”
Risk factors for hepatitis B and C include blood transfusion or exposure to blood or body fluids. Dr. Parmar adds, “This includes sexual exposure as well. Hepatitis C has now become completely treatable with oral medication and can achieve a cure in early 99 percent of patients. For this reason, it is important to suspect, test, diagnose and treat hepatitis C. It can prevent the development of other complications down the line. Hepatitis B cannot be completely cured with medication. But it can be well-controlled. Untreated hepatitis B is a risk factor for lupine liver cancer; hence it is important to diagnose and treat this condition at the earliest. Also, if anybody has first-degree relatives with hepatitis B or C, they should test for these viruses.”
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