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In India, 40 Million HBV+ & 25 Million HCV+
  Punjab leads in Hepatitis C cases
19 May 2009, 2230 hrs IST, Simran Virk, TNN
LUDHIANA: In what might be a cause of concern and a watch call for Punjab, doctors, on World Hepatitis awareness day, at a private hospital revealed that the state has the maximum number of Hepatitis C cases. According to experts, lack of awareness about the disease and its treatment, coupled with the fact that it has no visible symptoms in its early stages, has contributed to its spread in northern India.
Corroborating the statement with facts, Dr Nirmaljeet Singh Malhi, consultant gastroenterology and liver diseases at Deep Hospital said out of around 350 million carriers of the 'B' virus, 40 million are Indians. Similarly, out of 200 million suffering from Hepatitis C, 25 millions are Indians and the state shares a percentage of almost 5 to 7% of the sick. What is more striking is that whereas one out of every 12 persons is suffering from Hepatitis virus in world, the ratio is one out of every 16 people in Punjab.
Expressing a deep concern, Dr Malhi believed that the region's main problem is that of intravenous drug users, quackery and the use of the low quality disposable needles as in the country recycling of needles is a common practice.
Providing further details, hospital MD Dr Baldeep Singh said it spreads through the transmission of infected blood, unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, use of contaminated syringes and from an infected a mother to baby. He added that only prevention is the best medicine as there is no vaccine available. Besides thrust should be on not using syringes for treating diseases, which can be cured through medicines.
Speaking on the issue, Dayanand Medical College medical superintendent Dr Rajoo Singh said it is true that most of the cases are undetected and for this a regular screening of the patients is required as here needles are not properly sterilized.
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