V.G.M. Hospital and The Hindu teamed up on October 1 to generate awareness among the people on hepatitis, a general term meaning inflammation of the liver. Volunteers from the hospital, The Hindu and students of Kalaignar Karunanidhi Institute of Technology distributed copies of the newspaper pasted with handbills that contained a list of the various diseases or lifestyle factors that contribute to liver problems to mark the World Hepatitis Awareness Day. Hepatitis viruses, alcohol, certain drugs and obesity were among the causes.

Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Coimbatore Kendra, B.K. Krishnaraj Vanavarayar launched the campaign. The volunteers distributed the papers at busy traffic intersections to the public.

Liver damage

Director of the hospital and gastroenterologist V.G. Mohan Prasad said the viruses that caused liver damage were hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. Of these, hepatitis B, C and D caused irreversible damage.

Excessive alcohol consumption and obesity also damaged the liver chronically. This could lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer).

The common feature about these three viruses was their mode of transmission -- through infected syringes or needles or through transfusion of infected blood and blood products or through unsafe sex. All these viruses could cause liver damage and cirrhosis.

If not treated, it could lead to liver cancer.

More than 2,000 million people alive today had been infected with hepatitis B virus at some time in their lives. Of these, about 350 million remain infected chronically and become carriers of the virus.

Three quarters of the world's population lived in areas where there were high levels of infection.

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