Hepatitis B

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is an infection that is transmitted with the Hepatitis B virus which can cause an acute condition or progress into a chronic disease by attacking liver cells. In some chronic cases no symptoms are observed while in others due to liver failure caused by the virus, continuous treatment might be required. Cirrhosis or liver cancer are some of the most severe consequences of the disease becoming chronic.  

What is the prevalence?

It is estimated that 2 billion people worldwide have been in contact with the Hepatitis B virus while 400 million people have chronic Hepatitis B infections and 500 to 700 thousand people die annually due to hepatitis B related complications.  Hepatitis virus infections are the main cause of half of cirrhosis and approximately 80% of liver cancer cases. Studies in Turkey indicate that the positivity rate of the indicator antigene of Hepatitis B virus is at 5% of the population. This ratio is lower in the western regions and higher at the eastern parts of the country.

How is the disease transmitted?

The most common type of transmission is through blood however transmission from the mother to baby through pregnancy is also prevalent. It is in fact one of the biggest obstacles in fighting the transmission of the infection in Turkey. Sexual transmission is also another important factor. 

What should be done for protection? 

Vaccination for Hepatitis B is available worldwide. In Turkey, preventative vaccination practices are implemented since 1997. Hepatitis B screening is also critical especially for pregnant women. Anyone with a suspicious blood contact should be screened. Also, it is important to avoid unprotected sexual intercourse. 

What are the methods of treatment?

For people who are infected, it is important to start the treatment while monitoring the multiplication of the virus. The IV treatment methods that used to be highly unsettling have largely been modernized and current treatment methods mainly include oral tablets. Following oral medication, regular tests to monitor the virus and the liver should be performed on a schedule determined by the physician.
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