Monday, December 11, 2006

Hepatitis B Carriers: What you need to know!

One of my patients said this to me:

Dr, I was diagnosed as a Hepatitis B carrier 2 years ago. What do I need to do?

Please listen, if you are a Hep B carrier, it is IMPERATIVE that you are regularly checked by a Doctor at least twice a year and that your spouse/partner is protected against Hep B.

Importance of Hepatitis B in Singapore

1. 4% of Singaporeans are Hep B carriers, so there are quite a lot of people carrying the virus in their bodies!

2. Of these, 25% will develop complications which may lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

3. If you are a carrier, you may transmit Hep B to someone else!

In a nutshell, if you are a Hep B carrier, there is a chance that you may develop liver cancer and that you may also spread it to others.

How to prevent spreading Hep B to others

Hep B is transmitted through bodily fluids and are transmitted through sex, sharing of contaminated needles and sharing of other things that may cause bleeding like toothbrushes, nail clippers and shavers. Make sure you don't be a HERO and donate your blood or sperm!

What to do for your family members

It is important that your spouse be screened for Hep B and receive vaccination as soon as possible. It is advisable for others in the family to be screened as well. If you are pregnant, then the baby will need special treatment at birth.

What YOU need to do for yourself

1. Find a Family Doctor and make sure you visit him every 6 months

2. You will need blood tests to check for liver problems every 6 months

3. You will need at an Ultrasound of the Liver at least every year and for some high risk patients, twice a year

4. If you are not vaccinated against Hep A you should do so.

5. Avoid alcohol as this will cause more problems for your liver

Conclusion

Hepatitis B carriers have a chance of developing liver cancer and should be seen by a doctor every six months. Their family members and other sexual contacts are also at risk and should be screened. Hep B is a bigger problem than AIDS and kills more people every year than AIDS so you should be very careful.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc

I was down with severe gastric pain last week due to viral.
Fever's gone now but developed cold sores. Is it related?

ieat & itreat said...

Yes, cold sores can appear when your immune system is weakened

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,

I've had Hep B since birth. My question is this, can i sitll live a normal life as in get married and have children with out them getting infected. In other words my wife and my kids not getting infected.

I dont and never have smoked, done drugs, and hardly if ever drink(special occassions, even then just a sip)

I heard that if your wife is vancinated and she gets tested and has enough antibodies or what not she has a 99.999% chance of not getting infected (here i understand there is still that .1%), is this true?

ieat & itreat said...

If you are a Hep B carrier then you must make sure your future wife is vaccinated and has antibodies. When we do the blood test we look at certain values which indicates whether you are highly infective or not. If you are not highly infective and your wife is immune then it should be quite ok. But you still need to see the doctor every 6 mths

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,

Can a Hep B carrier able to have their own baby?

ieat & itreat said...

Yes, but you must let the obstetrician know of the status.

Anonymous said...

does your clinic have tests for a complete hepatitis profile? where must a hbsag reactive patient go for further testing?

ieat said...

Yes we do the complete profile. A hep B carrier can be managed in any GP clinic. If you have active hepatitis then of course you will need to see a specialist

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,

I have Hep B since birth and it was passed on during birth. I was diagnosed Hep B carrier not active and since last yr, I have been following up closely with SGH "L" clinic. All seems well but it is pretty uncomfortable for these 4% Hep B carriers as we are like waiting for something to happen. If contracted early liver cancer, then part of the liver is remove else, wait for transplant or hand-in your ID card. Is there any hope for a breakthrough drug to clean up those Hep B virus in the blood or are there development in this area?

ieat said...

I am sure they are working on a solution to this problem but I am not the expert in this area so I can't really give you the latest info.

For the time being the strategy is to make sure you get your blood tests and ultrasound scans done regularly

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Tay,

I'm not vaccinated with Hep A or B. How many jabs is required? What is the schdule like? How much does it cost? And could i take the Hep A & B jabs seperately (hee hee....budget constraints....)

JS.

ieat said...

You can take the combined Hep A and B jab which costs $110 each. You will need three jabs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc,
Can a Hep B carrier find a job easily like normal people without discrimination in singapore?thanks

ieat said...

That really is a question that can only be answered by an employer.

But I don't see why not, unless there is a high risk of blood transmission.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

I was diagnosed of Hep B about a month ago. I am also type 2 diabetic. However, I do not have any systoms except fatigue. I have been referred for a liver scanning. What should I eat to stay healthy.