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Many hepatitis carriers who need treatment not getting it: official

Many hepatitis carriers who need treatment not getting it: official

Taipei, July 27 (CNA) Some 650,000 hepatitis virus carriers who need treatment for liver problems are not seeking help, a senior health official warned Monday, and she urged people to take part in screening programs and get treatment if necessary.
Health Promotion Administration (HPA) Director Chiou Shu-ti said there are approximately 2.8 million hepatitis virus carriers in Taiwan, but only a small fraction of them get screened regularly to monitor their health.
Of the 900,000 carriers who show signs of liver disease, only 250,000 are being treated for their condition, meaning that around 70 percent of those afflicted do not seek medical treatment, she said.
Regular checkups are important, Chiou said, because hepatitis B or hepatitis C viral infections are the main cause of liver disease.
Hepatitis shows no symptoms in its initial stage, but once it is detected, it is often too late to treat it effectively, Chiou said.
She therefore urged local residents to get screened to determine whether they are carriers, and if their tests show indications of possible liver disease, they should seek treatment at soon as possible, she said.
Regular checkups can reduce the chances of death caused by liver cancer by 37 percent, and anti-viral drug treatment can reduce the incidence of liver cirrhosis by 47 percent and liver cancer by 78 percent, the official said.
The public should take advantage of Taiwan's universal national health insurance program to get tested and monitor their health instead of letting their insurance premiums go to waste, Chiou said.
Based on figures compiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), the number of deaths caused by chronic liver disease and cirrhosis steadily declined from 2004 to 2014.
The two diseases accounted for 4,975 deaths last year, making liver disease (not including liver cancer) the ninth major cause of death in Taiwan, down two notches from 10 years earlier.
Despite the notable improvement, however, surveys done by the HPA indicate that the general public's awareness of liver disease is inadequate.
Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed have the misperception that drinking is the main cause of liver disease, when in fact the affliction is primarily caused by the hepatitis B and C viruses.
Its figures also indicate that while 90 percent of the afflicted understand the benefits of regular checkups and medication, many patients who know they have hepatitis B and C do not seek medical treatment. (by Chen Pei-yu and Lance Yau)


Updated : 2021-09-17 16:12 GMT+08:00