A Silent Disease

After infecting individuals, Hepatitis B virus affects the liver and can cause significant acute inflammation leading to fulminant hepatitis and possibly death. However, most commonly Hepatitis B causes a chronic infection leading to low grade liver inflammation which, over time, leads to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. It is well known that the chances of chronic infection are highest when individuals are exposed at a young age, which makes the Hepatitis B vaccine a crucial tool to prevent infection. Sadly, Hepatitis B rarely yields any symptoms until the disease is in late stage. Therefore, infected individuals could have the virus for years without knowing. This particular issue is what makes awareness of Hepatitis B so critically important; If we do not think about it and we do not think about checking for it, we will miss the chance to find the virus until it has caused severe damage.