Lack of Awareness Drives Rise in Hepatitis B Cases in Vietnam
The Chairman of the Vietnam Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Dinh Quy Lan reports that incidence of hepatitis B is increasing among the Vietnamese population because the public is not well informed about hepatitis B symptoms or prevention, and the public health system has no hepatitis B prevention program. According to Lan, only 25 percent of Vietnamese newborns receive the recommended initial dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth.
The association estimates that 20 percent of the total population of Vietnam has hepatitis B, with an average of 35 new diagnoses each day. Approximately 40 percent of hepatitis B-infected people have an increased risk of liver cancer; close to 10,000 Vietnamese die each year from complications of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The number of 2012 hepatitis-B diagnoses in Vietnam doubled from 2011.
Hepatitis B may be transmitted from one person to another by sexual intercourse, or by sharing syringes or a toothbrush. Lan stated that many hepatitis B-infected people fail to seek medical attention because they attribute their symptoms—loss of appetite, insomnia, and “unusually yellow” urine—to other causes.
The association recommends enhanced public education and encourages inoculation of health care workers, babies, caregivers in rehabilitation facilities, and unvaccinated people under the age of 18.
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