The Vietnam Association for the Study of Liver Disease recently estimated that 15 to 20 percent of Vietnam's population (12 to 16 million people) is infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).
The association's report, released on September 4, showed that four to five million Vietnamese infected with HBV suffer from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Hepatitis B is the most common form of viral hepatitis in the world. HBV is transmitted primarily through parental routes (e.g. blood transfusions), intravenous drug use, tattooing and acupuncture with contaminated needles. This virus is also a major sexually-transmitted disease.
HBV can cause chronic liver inflammation leading to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and other complications.
The association also estimated that 5 percent of the population is afflicted with cirrhosis of the liver. The degenerative condition is primarily caused by hepatitis B, hepatitis C and auto-immune disorders. It may also be brought on by chronic alcoholism.
Doctors advised that, to prevent oneself from being infected with the HBV virus, one should avoid sharing needles with drug users, tattooing, unsafe sex, and alcohol abuse. Vaccination is a safe and effective method to protect against a hepatitis B infection, they said.