Chronic infections are mostly asymptomatic and the disease progresses over a period of 20-30 years towards liver cirrhosis and cancer. This insidious onset means that most people who are infected are unaware, undiagnosed and do not perceive themselves as being ‘at risk’ because they feel healthy and may have been infected many years earlier. Advances in our understanding and in antiviral treatment and of viral hepatitis means we can now prevent mortality and morbidity associated with both chronic hepatitis B and C infection.
This is why screening is important – to identify otherwise ‘healthy’ people through accurate diagnostic tests and to refer to specialist care for further evaluation and treatment. Watch this short video to learn from the hepatology perspective why screening as a form of secondary prevention is important.