Health check-up now includes liver screening

Dr. Karen Zoufal | 02/17/2021

The health check-up to which insured persons aged 35 and over are entitled every three years will in future also be examined once to determine whether hepatitis B or C, a virus disease of the liver, is present. Those who have already attended the check-up can also have the liver screening carried out before they are entitled to the next health examination.

In the future, insured persons aged 35 and over will be able to have a health check-up tested to see whether they have hepatitis B or C. These viral diseases are often insidious and without symptoms, but in the long run they can lead to severe liver damage or liver cancer. This can be avoided through timely treatment with drugs that inhibit the replication of the virus.

Hepatitis B is a very contagious disease that is transmitted through blood or sexual contact. Whether an infection is present can be determined in the blood by the detection of virus protein and virus genetic information. There is a vaccination that has been recommended for infants and children since 1995 and for people with weakened immune systems since 2013. Anyone vaccinated against hepatitis B does not need to be tested.

It is different with hepatitis C: There is no vaccination here. The disease is mainly transmitted through blood, only very rarely sexually. If antibodies against hepatitis C viruses can be detected in the blood, the genetic information of the virus is searched for in a second step. If the latter cannot be detected, the infection is healed. Only if genetic information about the virus is found is it an active infection that is treated with medication.

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