Nagpur: Hepatitis B seems to be more common than it is perceived. A study conducted by the gastroenterology department at the Super Specialty Hospital (SSH) in Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) over last seven years has shown that in as much as 5% of the chronic hepatitis B patients, the disease gets converted first into cirrhosis and then into liver cancer and die.
Dr Sudhir Gupta, professor and head of the gastroenterology department told TOI that most people with hepatitis B disease are unaware of the causes as well as the consequences of hepatitis B which is either through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion or is hereditary in some patients. The infection can also get transmitted through tattooing. But very few know about the deadly virus and take any precautionary measures like vaccination for the disease.
The study analyzed the data of 1,200 patients over seven years for various impacts of the hepatitis B. It showed that almost 175-200 patients took treatment at the SSH every year. Of these, almost 20-30% get converted into chronic liver disease. Some patients have to take treatment for almost 3-5 years while some need it lifelong. Only 0.5 to 0.7% of the hepatitis B patients easily get off the disease and become sero-negative after the medicines. Yet they have to be on follow up for 7-8 years.
“Earlier, treating these patients was difficult as drugs like interferon would cost RRs 15,000 per injection. But now very good oral medicines are also available which most patients can afford. So, the rate of patients in whom the disease gets converted to cancer has decreased,” said Dr Gupta.
Basically, two blood serum tests are conducted to diagnose the disease. These are called as HBeAG and HBbDNA. In patients who come HBeAG positive, have more chances of cure and almost 8-10% of the patients become disease free.
There impact of hepatitis B resulting into chronic liver disease is two ways. In mild the effect is such that patients live from 5-8 years whereas in patients with decompensated or severe effect the survival rate is just 2-3%. The patients with severe effect have swollen feet, jaundice, blood vomiting or suffer from hepato-renal syndrome.
The gastroenterology department is also a part of the global study on the disease and the drugs used to treat it. But Dr Gupta said that the results of this study could not be shared.