GUWAHATI, July 27 - Affirming that the hepatitis B virus is 100 times more infectious than even HIV, senior Guwahati-based physician Dr Bhabadev Goswami today said that the prevalence rate of the disease in the Northeast too is worrisome and there is a need to step up the level of awareness.
Referring to an ongoing study done in the Northeast under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research, Goswami, who is also head of the Gastroenterology Department of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), said that although the study is not yet complete, the trend shows that the rate of prevalence of hepatitis B should be around 2 per cent, which is pretty high.
Goswami, while addressing the media, informed that on the occasion of World Hepatitis Day tomorrow (July 28), the Department of Gastroenterology of GMCH, in association with the Northeast Digestive and Liver Foundation, has lined up a series of programmes for mass awareness.
�Unlike HIV, awareness about the hepatitis virus is very low. About one-third of all cases of hepatitis come from an unknown or unidentifiable source. This means that you do not have to be in a high risk group in order to be infected with a hepatitis virus. Hepatitis kills more than one million people every year. India has around 40 million patients with hepatitis B. Approximately 500 million people worldwide have either hepatitis B or hepatitis C,� he said.
�A change of mindset is what is needed among the people. Vaccine coverage, which costs very little, has to increase to prevent the deadly virus,� he pointed out.