On Saturday, Government Stanley Hospital marked World Hepatitis Day by launching a screening programme for transgenders, whose community is one of the most vulnerable to the disease.
“Transgenders may be carriers of the Hepatitis B virus and may spread the infection to their partners. The women in turn transmit it to their unborn children,” said Dean S. Gitalakshmi.
“To identify this high-risk group we have decided to conduct screening programmes every Tuesday and Thursday for transgenders in North Chennai.”
Those identified with the virus will receive a vaccination to prevent spread of the infection, she added. The clinic was inaugurated by Speaker D. Jayakumar.
“The focus is on Hepatitis B because the virus can live in dried blood for seven days,” explained A. Shabnam, global health advisor to the Asia and Pacific Alliance to Eliminate Viral Hepatitis, a unit of the Asian Liver Centre at Stanford University. She is currently conducting a survey among healthcare providers in private hospitals in the State to assess the level of awareness about the infection. In association with the Centre, Kumaran Hospital in the city has launched a weeklong vaccination programme.
A group of doctors from Apollo Hospitals also organised a programme to disseminate information about the Hepatitis variety of infections, which range from A to E.
sThe discovery of Hepatitis viruses has been through the trial and error method, they said. Research over the years, led doctors to identifying more variations of the virus, some of which are spread through contaminated water and food and some through blood.