KUALA LUMPUR: With more than 450,000 Malaysians suffering from Hepatitis C, a number which many health experts believe is just the tip of the iceberg, doctors are calling on the people to check if they are victims of the disease.Hepatology professor Datuk Dr Goh Khean Lee (pix) said Hepatitis C is a silent disease with symptoms of normal illnesses and thus it can only be detected through a blood test.
He added that the 450,000 are only reported cases and cautioned that there may be many more suffering from the disease.”Early detection can save lives as otherwise it may lead to scarring of the liver or liver cancer,” he added.Dr Goh is head of gastroenterology and hepatology at University Malaya Medical Centre which held a talk today to raise awareness and increase knowledge of Hepatitis C among media practitioners.
“I urge all Malaysians to heed the awareness raised today. Consult a doctor for yearly blood tests as this could lead to a significant public health issue in the country,” he said in a press conference after the event.”Hepatitis C, which can last a lifetime, simply means inflammation of the liver and it is a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus and it can be transmitted from one infected person to another through blood-to-blood contact,” he said.
Worldwide, about 160 million people are infected with Hepatitis C, with some 350,000 dying each year due to complications of the disease.Hepatitis C is transmitted by unprotected sex, intravenous drug use, sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes, body modifications such as tattoos or piercing, and blood transfusions.