It's not a disease that is often discussed, but as we approach World Hepatitis Day tomorrow, a Dubai doctor has encouraged more people to be tested for the potentially deadly virus.
Dr Adnan Abuhammour, president of the Emirates Gastronenterology Society, announced a UAE-wide campaign today and warned that people need to test early to detect the deadly Hepatitis B virus, saying that social stigma over its transmission holds back many in seeking advice.
About three per cent of the UAE population, or about 135,000 people are affected by the deadly virus, he said.
Abuhammour said that Hepatitis B virus is 100 times more infectious than HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and is a huge burden on the economy.
He said that a "dirham of prevention" is important as the virus ultimately attacks the liver and the only hope in the later stages is a liver transplant which costs $500,000 (about Dhs 1.8 million.
Hepatitis B is transmitted person to person through blood and bodily fluids.
It can be transmitted during unprotected sex, through intravenous drug use and needle sharing, and from mother to child during pregnancy.
Al Ain Sports and Cultural Club CEO Dr Khalid Mohammad Abdullah said that while Hepatitis B is not a pandemic, it will urge its huge fan base to push forward the idea to the youth to seek early screening and try to remove the social stigma in seeking help.