Hepatitis, an underdiagnosed disease Hepatitis, an underdiagnosed disease

Of all the types of hepatitis, hepatitis B and C are the types with the highest risk of suffering from serious liver problems. 

According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 325 million people throughout the world live with chronic hepatitis B or C, and yet very few of them are aware of it.

According to the WHO, “The majority of this population do not undergo exams and do not have access to treatment,” which is why millions of people run the risk of developing a chronic disease or receiving fatal cancer diagnoses.

Only 9% of those who have hepatitis B are aware they have it, states the WHO; and only 20% of those who have hepatitis C are aware of their condition.

The medical website, MedlinePlus, lists the symptoms of hepatitis: pain or bloating in the abdominal region, cloudy urine, pale or clay-colored stool, fatigue, low-grade fever, itchiness, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), a lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. With hepatitis B and C, however, it is likely for symptoms to not appear at first.

The most common way of transmitting both types of hepatitis is through contact with infected blood, or when a mother that is infected gives birth. It is therefore important for people who may have one of the risk factors to get blood tests or other regular tests and exams.

“Mortality from hepatitis is increasing (22% between 2000 and 2014), while mortality from tuberculosis or AIDS is falling,” Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall mentions, director of the WHO hepatitis prevention program.

Sources: AFP and Medline Plus