Call for S'poreans to go for Hepatitis B and C screening

Photo above: A doctor examining blood samples for hepatitis.

SINGAPORE - Professor Lim Seng Gee, president of the Asian Pacific Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and founding member of the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific, today called for more Singaporeans to go for hepatitis B and C testing.

This is as about one in 35 adults here in Singapore is a carrier of Hepatitis B and about 10,000 Singaporeans are affected by Hepatitis C, The Straits Times reported.

Both viruses result in an inflamed liver, and may lead to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, organ failure and even death. The viruses are also the leading cause of liver cancer - the fifth most common cancer among men in Singapore.

However, few symptoms manifest themselves until the later stages of the disease.

Despite the dangers, only one in five to one in four Hepatitis B carriers go for treatment and regular follow ups, said the head of the gastroenterology and hepatology department at the National University Hospital (NUH).

While those aged 25 and below are protected from Hepatitis B due to a nationwide vaccination programme implemented in 1987, this still means 68 per cent of the population is still at risk, he added.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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