Asian alarm at deadly hepatitis spread
More than five million people in South and Southeast Asia will die from viral hepatitis over the next decade as experts warn of a rampant epidemic that has already taken more lives than malaria, dengue and HIV/AIDS combined in the past 10 years.
The crisis is compounded by lack of awareness about the disease and the increasing resistance of drugs, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. More than 130 million people from 11 Asian countries carry hepatitis B and C, out of a total of 520 million globally.
A statement released by WHO today said that “[s]eemingly healthy people may be infected, and can continue to spread the infection”, while chronic hepatitis B and C are “among the leading causes of preventable deaths” in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, North Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
“These viruses are 30 times more prevalent than HIV in [these countries]. However, due to the asymptomatic nature of these infections, about 60 percent of infected individuals remain unaware that they are infected, until they show symptoms of cirrhosis or a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma; this may take over 20 years.”http://www.dvb.no/news/asian-alarm-at-deadly-hepatitis-spread/16677