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Amitabh Bachchan is WHO’s goodwill ambassador for hepatitis

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MUMBAI: To check the spread of the hepatitis epidemic, the World Health Organisation(WHO) on Friday appointed actor Amitabh Bachchan as its goodwill ambassador for hepatitis in the South-East Asia region.

The actor (74) was diagnosed with hepatitis B infection during a routine health scan in 2004, more than 15 years after he underwent a blood transfusion.

At a press conference on Friday, he said he is committed to the cause of eradicating hepatitis from India. “About 75% of my liver had been damaged. I am an example of someone who is surviving with only 25% of his liver functioning,” Bachchan said. “I am absolutely committed to the cause of hepatitis. As a person living with hepatitis B, I know the pain and sufferings that it causes. No one should suffer from viral hepatitis,” said Bachchan.

WHO officials said that most people with hepatitis virus infection, be it hepatitis B or C, are unaware about it. These viruses get transmitted through infected blood, unsafe sex and sharing of needles. “Less than 10% of the people infected with the virus are aware of it. People have to be made aware about the need to test for this virus and undergo treatment,” said WHO South East Asia Region director Poonam Khetrapal Singh.

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