Hepatitis-Are You At Risk   

Hepatitis-Are You At Risk

Hepatitis infection could happen to anyone. Educate yourself on this preventable disease.

The liver is a complex organ that holds approximately 13 percent of a person's blood supply at any one time and performs an estimated 500 functions.

The liver works round the clock and is involved with four basic, but important, functions:

  1. Regulating, synthesising and secreting glucose, proteins, bile and lipids.

  2. Storing glucose, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), vitamins B6 and B12, and minerals (copper and iron).

  3. Purifying, transforming and clearing the blood of harmful substances.

  4. Fighting infections, particularly those arising from the bowel.

Diseases can damage the liver, disrupting its functions and resulting in serious health problems. Hepatitis is one of the many diseases that can affect the liver.


The hepatitis A virus (HAV) is highly contagious and can lead to death, with case-fatality rates of 0.3-0.6 percent, as reported through the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, with the rate rising to 1.8 percent in those above 50 years of age.

The hepatitis A virus is commonly found in the stool of an infected person and is spread through the faecal-oral route through person-to person contact or via contaminated food and water.

Simple everyday activities pose a serious threat for infection because contamination can occur through household or sexual contact with an infected person , children and employees in day-care centres, as well as with those who travel abroad.


The hepatitis B virus is highly infectious and can result in life-long infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure and even death.

Although the disease is preventable, approximately one million people die from hepatitis B every year worldwide. Every minute, one or two chronic hepatitis B deaths are recorded in the Western Pacific and South-East Asia.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected person. Most commonly, a person is infected through perinatal transmission, child-to-child transmission, unsafe injections and transfusions, as well as sexual contact.

For hepatitis B, however, the symptoms do not always present themselves and the danger lies in the fact that some people do not even know they are carrying the disease.

Because hepatitis A and B can have devastating outcomes, it is important that the disease is detected at an early stage.

Fortunately, hepatitis A and B can be detected via a simple blood test. While certain measures can be taken to prevent hepatitis A and B infection, vaccination is one of the best ways of protecting against the disease.


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