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.