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DOH survey shows public has liver disease misconceptions

By Wen Shin Kuo--A survey conducted by the Department of Health (DOH, 衛生署) from July 20 to 27 of 3,668 participants aged from 25 to 64 showed worrying results, with the majority of participants having misconceptions on liver-related diseases such as Hepatitis B and C.

In a multiple-choice question on what were the main causes of liver diseases, the most popular answer was “staying up late” (93.3 percent), with “alcohol consumption” (91.9 percent), “Hepatitis B” (81.3 percent), “working overtime” (70 percent), “liver-related diseases” (69.8 percent), “overdosing on medication” (65.4 percent), “Hepatitis C” (64.3 percent), “family history” (64.1 percent) and so on as the more popular answers.

Of the 3,668 participants, 16.4 percent answered that they have Hepatitis B, and only 0.9 percent said they have Hepatitis C. Almost 80 percent of the participants were liver-disease free.

When those with Hepatitis B were asked if they had consulted a doctor after learning that they had the disease, 29.9 percent replied that they did not think it necessary to consult a doctor. When further questioned as to why they did not deem it necessary to seek medical help, 73.8 percent of that group replied that they did not develop any symptoms, and therefore did not seek medical help. Other answers were that they “did not know where to seek help” (20 percent), “did not think they needed to seek medical help” (16.9 percent), “had no time” (13.1 percent) and finally “forgot” (2.3 percent).

According to the Bureau of Health Promotion (健康局), Hepatitis B and C make up 80 percent of the main causes of liver cancer. Every year there are 13,175 deaths due to chronic liver diseases, liver sclerosis and liver cancer, according to the DOH. The DOH is urging the public to raise its awareness of preventative measures against contracting Hepatitis B and C in order to prevent further risks of liver diseases. The DOH encourages the public to seek medical help if they test positive for Hepatitis B and C. If the disease is closely monitored, liver disease treatment and liver cancer prevention can be better addressed.

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