More work needed to combat hepatitis, AIDS

More work needed to combat hepatitis, AIDS

JAKARTA - Efforts to combat HIV/AIDS would be futile if the lives of those infected remain at risk due to hepatitis, a deputy minister has said.

"We can't separate viral hepatitis from HIV/AIDS-related problems because Indonesia's HIV/AIDS epidemic is concentrated in its high-risk population," Health Deputy Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti said.

It is estimated that 28 million people in Indonesia are infected with hepatitis B and C. Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) 2007 showed that the prevalence of hepatitis stood at 9.4 per cent while hepatitis C at 2.1 per cent.

Unlike other types of hepatitis, which can be caught via fecal oral transmission, hepatitis B, C and D can infect patients via parenteral transmission, such as sharing personal items used by those infected or through sexual intercourse.

Administering the hepatitis B vaccine to newly born babies was initiated in 1997 but a hepatitis C vaccine has yet to be developed.

"Hepatitis is an illness that can be prevented and cured," Ghufron said.

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