Experts call for hepatitis B and C screening
People who are infected with hepatitis B or C viruses often do not notice this. Liver cancer and cirrhosis are often due to infections with hepatitis B or C viruses. Liver experts therefore call for routine tests to uncover the hidden contagions.
Up to one million with hepatitis Nationwide, experts estimate that up to one million people suffer from an infection with the hepatitis B or C virus. “Hepatitis B and C are notifiable for laboratory and doctor. But you can only report an infection if it is recognized, "said Heiner Wedemeyer of the Hannover Medical School (MHH). The infection often remains undetected, especially in migrants. Some typical symptoms at the beginning of the illness, such as fever, body aches, nausea or fatigue are often perceived as an alleged flu infection, but even such warning signs sometimes do not appear for years. Sometimes liver tests show elevated liver values, "which is often ignored," says Deutsche Leberhilfe.
Liver cirrhosis and liver cancer If the infections go undetected, they could lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. Early diagnosis is particularly important for cirrhosis, since damage that has already occurred cannot be reversed. An internist could stop the destruction of the liver, but according to most doctors, cirrhosis of the liver is not curable. For those affected, a balanced and vitamin-rich diet and the avoidance of alcohol are important. In addition, a promotion of bowel movements is recommended to rid the body of toxins.
Germany has some catching up to do “When it comes to research on hepatitis, Germany is top. But when it comes to the care and detection of infections, we have to catch up in comparison to other countries. In France, for example, the liver function tests and the presence of hepatitis viruses have been checked for every patient who comes to the doctor for years, "said Wedemeyer. Although the liver function tests did not increase in all those affected, at least a part of the Infections are discovered, which is why, according to Wedemeyer, liver controls should be integrated into examinations that are necessary anyway: "A special virus test should also be carried out in patients who belong to certain risk groups."
Different risk groups People who belong to these risk groups are, for example, injecting drug users, where not only the needles but also other accessories could transmit the viruses. Migrants are also at risk. Patients who received a blood transfusion until 1999 also belong to the group at risk, since only then has an obligatory test for blood donation for blood donation services been introduced for the blood donation for the hepatitis C virus. The risk of sexual infection is minimal with the hepatitis C virus, but higher with the hepatitis B virus. The deputy chairman of the German Liver Foundation, Professor Stefan Zeuzem, regrets the ignorance of most infected people. "There is widespread ignorance about contagion routes and the prospect of healing."
Routine examination required The German Liver Aid and the hepatitis and drug use alliance are calling for better screening in an action plan in order to identify infections at an early stage. Independent liver experts such as Reinhart Zachoval from the University of Munich or the President of the Federal Association of Internists, Wolfgang Wesiack, also support the screening. “At the moment, people infected with the hepatitis B or C virus are discovered by chance. Affected persons can only be found through routine examination of the liver values and, if necessary, additional virus tests, "says Zachoval. Liver cancer has become the fifth most common cancer worldwide and the number of people suffering from it is also increasing in Germany. Wesiack on the screening idea:" However, effort and yield must The liver values should be examined as routinely as possible, which is relatively cheap. I would only undertake an expensive virus test if the conversation with the patient provides appropriate information. "
Task Force for Action Plan Wedemeyer explains: “So far, the determination of liver values has not even been part of Check-up 35, although this costs very little per patient. The determination of the liver values would also be very important in connection with the fatty liver and the metabolic syndrome. “There are drugs that keep the hepatitis B virus in check and could thus prevent liver cell cancer and liver cirrhosis. The liver expert hopes that the therapy for hepatitis C will improve in the next few years. For certain hepatitis C infections, therapy should be possible as early as 2014 without the active ingredient interferon alpha, which often causes side effects. However, it is not enough to just improve the effectiveness of the medication. "We need a task force," says Wedemeyer, "who is consistently implementing our action plan." (ad)
Photo credit: Hartmut910 / pixelio.d