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World Hepatitis Day

Dr Lim Jye Wey, Primary Care Doctor

1 July, 2023

World Hepatitis Day - Risk & Prevention for Hepatitis B & C.

Malaysians and Hepatitis

According to National Strategic Plan for Hepatitis B and C Malaysia 2019 – 2023, the number of deaths caused by viral hepatitis is higher than the number of deaths caused by tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS worldwide. Among all the viral hepatitis-related deaths, approximately 48% are attributable to Hepatitis B & Hepatitis C, respectively. In Malaysia, most of the hepatitis B patients were born in the pre-vaccination era, with approximately 45% to 50% of them aged between 20 to 40 years old.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are two different types of viral infections that can affect the liver, potentially leading to liver inflammation, liver damage, and even liver cancer. These infections are primarily transmitted through the transfer of blood or body fluids from an infected person to another individual. It’s important to note that certain high-risk behaviors, such as sharing needles among intravenous drug users or having multiple sexual partners, can increase the chances of contracting these infections. Taking necessary precautions and adopting safer practices can help reduce the risk of acquiring it.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B and C: Prevention & Transmission

Daily Habits:

You can prevent the transmission of Hepatitis B & C infections by incorporating simple daily practices. Take charge of your personal hygiene by avoiding the sharing of personal hygiene equipment like razors, toothbrushes, and earrings with others. In public areas, ensure proper disinfection in case of any potential blood or body fluid spillage, and opt for single-use equipment when getting tattoos or piercings, for example. By implementing these proactive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of transmitting the infections.

Hospital Setting:

Healthcare workers must actively practice universal precautions and ensure they never reuse needles or syringes in healthcare settings. This proactive approach is crucial in preventing the transmission of infections. In the case of Hepatitis B, the most effective method of preventing sexual transmission is through vaccination. Regrettably, there is currently no available vaccine for Hepatitis C worldwide.

Hepatitis B and C vaccine

Should I Get Vaccinated for Hepatitis B?

Studies have proven that Hepatitis B vaccination effectively reduces the risk of transmission from an infected mother to her baby. In Malaysia, the  Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases & Chemotherapy took the initiative to implement widespread Hepatitis B vaccination for neonates as part of the Expanded Program for Immunisation. The success of this program is evident, as the prevalence of chronic Hepatitis B viral infection among individuals born in 1999 and 2000 is only 0.3%, in comparison to 1.7% among those born between 1986 and 1988. Furthermore, serological evidence indicates that the universal infant Hepatitis B immunisation program in Malaysia has effectively decreased the rate of chronic Hepatitis B viral infection in individuals up to approximately 24 years of age.

Hepatitis Screening

Getting Screened for Hepatitis

It is important to screen for Hepatitis B & C to determine whether a person has these infections or not. If an individual is infected, they should consult a doctor for further assessment, necessary treatment, and follow-up, to prevent liver damage and liver cancer.

Creating awareness among people about Hepatitis B & C infections is crucial to reduce the number of infected people. Screening should be encouraged. Vaccination and taking precautions can reduce the risk of transmission. Hopefully, Hepatitis B & C can be eradicated globally one day!

Take Charge of Your Health: Get Screened and Vaccinated for Hepatitis!

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