7 Myths of Hepatitis B
Posted October 10, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 2 min read
Hepatitis B is usually a silent infection. According to global estimates, around 5 to 10% of the population could harbor the infection. In India around 3-4 % of apparently healthy people test positive during free checkup camps. Around 20-40 million people in India are infected, 6 to 10 times more than HIV.
Myth 1: Hepatitis B is a fatal disease.
In fact there are 20 to 40 million infected individuals in India who are living normal lives, and the majority of whom will live till old age. The infection does not kill every one.
Myth 2: It is an untreatable disease.
No. It has 6 oral medicines for treatment. The 3 latest medicines are entecavir, tenofovir and TAF (tenofovir alfenamide), which are safe, effective and affordable.
Myth 3: Why is it then called a killer disease?
It is because in some individuals who are infected with the virus, the infection gets out of hand, the virus injures the liver and can cause liver damage, liver failure or liver cancer.
Myth 4: Are the statement 1 and 3 not contradictory?
No. If an infected person is diagnosed on time by a simple blood test, and given appropriate treatment, his life (both quality and length) will be like a normal individual. The problem is that many people get diagnosed late when liver damage has already occurred.
Myth 5: The vaccine to prevent hepatitis B has side effects and is costly.
No. The vaccine is one of the safest of all vaccines. It used to be costly once upon a time ( approximately Rs 500 for each dose, 3 required) but is know available for as low as Rs 50 per dose, or even cheaper.
Myth 6: Hepatitis B spreads by touching, coughing, sharing utensils.
No. It is spread only when body fluids from an infected person enters another through pricking, transfusions or sex.
Myth 7: Hepatitis B vaccine should be given to all infected persons.
No. It is meant for only those who are not yet infected. Anyone who is positive for HBsAg is not likely to benefit from the vaccine.