English | Dzongkha Saturday, July 21, 2018

Bhutan has high prevalence of Hepatitis

Sonam Choden, Thimphu
Jul 15, 2016

Bhutan has high prevalence of HepatitisBhutan has high prevalence of Hepatitis compared to the growing number of HIV/AIDS. The prevalence of Hepatitis B is 3 percent in the country while HIV prevalence is just 0.1 percent.

According to the Health Minister, of the different types of Hepatitis disease in the country, Hepatitis B is becoming a serious issue.

It is a viral infection that attacks the liver.

“As a first step, we have started immunizing younger generation with Hepatitis B vaccination,” said the health minister, Tandin Wangchuk.

In 2012, 205 cases of Hepatitis cases were reported.

It increased to 746 in 2014.

“Increase in the number of Hepatitis B is because people are engaging in unprotected intercourse,” said Programme Manager with the Department of Public Health, Namgay Tshering.

He said there is also increasing mobility of people which could directly or indirectly lead to closer interaction of people.

“There is less condom usage among the general public.  Hepatitis is a part of STIs, if you undermine use of condoms during the sexual intercourse; you are more susceptible to Hepatitis B infections”

Health officials said Hepatitis B is 50-80 percent more infectious than HIV.

“It can be transmitted through any bodily fluids even through saliva.”

Namgay Tshering said it can also spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, sharing of injecting needles and to some degree mother to child.

Hepatitis B vaccine in the country was introduced in 1997. It is given to infants as part of regular vaccination within the first month after birth.


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