Hepatitis B is a contagious disease of the liver caused by the virus HBV. This is the most common cause of chronic virus liver infection in the world. It appears everywhere, but some parts of the world have a bigger percentage of patients suffering from hepatitis b. The disease is most common in southeastern Asia, China and in tropical parts of Africa as well as middle and Eastern Europe and Middle East. Estimates say that there are about 300 million people currently infected with hepatitis B, especially in the third world countries where the infection is transmitted “vertically” (from mother to the baby). In the developed world countries the disease is usually transmitted “horizontally”, which indicates transmission over sexual intercourse, intravenous equipment mishandling etc.
Incubation of hepatitis B virus is anywhere from 1 to 6 months. Symptoms may vary, depending on the age of the patient. Children may go through the condition without even being aware of it as the symptoms are very mild and non-specific. In the acute phase it is difficult to set it apart from other types of hepatitis so it’s necessary to do laboratory tests where increased values of liver enzymes may be encountered, as well as the HBV virus itself. After a couple of months the disease can spontaneously pass by, leaving the patient with a permanent immunity, but with a certain number of patients the disease may cross over to the chronic phase which manifests in different ways. It has been discovered that only about 2-8% of acutely infected adults develop persistent HBV infection, while newborns are basically stuck with it – 90% of babies born with hepatitis B will develop chronic phase.
For people who are wondering is hepatitis b curable, there are a number of aspects to take into consideration. To start with, the acute disease is symptomatic which means that treatment takes care of the symptoms appearing. These procedures include lowering the body temperature, maintaining an electrolytic balance, diet and in case of more severe types of the condition hospitalization may be required.
Treatment of the chronic phase of the illness is done with medication which stops multiplication of the virus or improve the overall body immunity. Alfa interferon is used as one of the most specific medications for this condition. It inhibits synthesis of the virus proteins and acts as an immunostimulant. The goal of modern antivirus therapy is to accomplish a conversion from the replicative into integrated phase of the virus.
Despite all of these measures taken to battle with the virus, sometimes it is not possible to prevent virus from multiplying which can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
In order to prevent the disease to be transferred medically, it is necessary to maintain strict control of all the medical instruments used in the practice. An important measure of prevention is general health education of the public, which includes a lot of lessons about safe sexual intercourse. People underestimate the benefits of safe sex and often get infected without knowing what they are getting themselves into.