Romania Suffering Europe's Highest Hepatitis Rate
February 26, 2007
With 2 million of its 22 million people infected with a form of hepatitis, Romania has Europe's highest burden of the disease. An estimated 1.5 million Romanians carry a form of hepatitis but do not know they are infected.
According to a report presented in September at the National Conference for Liver Diseases in Bucharest, 5-6 percent of those with hepatitis B or C will develop chronic hepatitis. Of these, 20 percent will develop cirrhosis. About twenty percent of cirrhosis patients will develop liver cancer.
Romania's health care system has the resources to treat only 6-8 percent of those infected, said Dr. Adrian Abagiu from Matei Bals Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Bucharest. Only the most serious cases can qualify for state-subsidized care, yet "the serious cases have the least chances of getting cured," Abagiu said. Treatment can cost thousands of euros; the average Romanian's salary is less than 350 lei ($460 US) per month.
Experts say hepatitis took hold in Romania in the 1980s due to poor conditions in medical facilities and practices such as reusing syringes and transfusing unscreened blood. Hepatitis is now the leading cause of hospitalization in Romania.
The recent study said conducting vaccination campaigns and providing antivirals to all patients would be cheaper than treating patients only once they become seriously ill.
Inter Press Service
02.19.07; Claudia Ciobanu
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.