hepatitis,PGI,Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research

Do you have Hepatitis or not? This is the one of the first few questions that a medical professional asks a donor at a blood bank. The answer—yes or no—is the first step of screening. But a study conducted by the doctors at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) revealed that almost 50% people were clueless about their hepatitis status.

The study, ‘Knowledge and attitude regarding hepatitis B and C among blood donors and non-donors in North India’, was conducted by four departments of the PGIMER, including transfusion medicine, hepatology, psychiatry, and community medicine and published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology on August 25.

For the purpose of the study, the doctors surveyed 2,000 blood donors and 2,000 non-donors. The age of the people ranged from 18-60 years and 70% of them were males. In the donors group, the majority (87.5%) consisted of men and in the non-donors group, 48% of those surveyed were women.

“Overall, the knowledge score was 51% in both donors and non-donors,” it finds.

“It is evident that neither the existing level of knowledge nor the attitude of donors and non-donors towards hepatitis B and C is adequate for being able to select a low-risk blood donor,” the authors conclude.

One of the authors, who wishes not to be named, said, “The prevalence of HIV among blood donors is .05%, whereas of hepatitis is .5%. This means that people are aware about their HIV status and not about hepatitis.”

He added, “Before taking blood samples, the first criteria to screen a donor is a questionnaire form prepared by National Blood Transfusion Council, which is given to the blood donor to fill. Here, basic questions like if a person has HIV, Hepatitis, tattoo, body piercing, jaundice are asked. This is the first stage towards selection of low-risk blood donors.”

“The second step, is to send the blood units for testing to check for transfusion transmissible infections by checking antibodies, antigens and nucleic acids. The purpose is to rule out any infection,” he said.

Doctors say that people can know their hepatitis status by getting an ELISA test.