Jun 20, 2020
Ponni Perumalswami treats
patients who have advanced
liver diseases. She also is working to reach communities at
risk for viral hepatitis B and C to connect them to testing,
education, and healthcare.
Ponni Perumalswami is an
associate professor of medicine in the Division of Liver Diseases
at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. She tells listeners that there’s
an at-risk population for hepatitis B and C that she and her
colleagues are targeting. In the U.S., while the diseases are less
common in the general population, at-risk groups who immigrate from
areas with higher rates, specifically Asian and African-born
communities, are hard to reach.
Because they may not have insurance and are not English speakers, they aren’t in touch with primary care doctors who might normally screen for these diseases and they can be asymptomatic for years. Her outreach efforts include testing within the communities and awareness-raising efforts.
Dr. Perumalswami explains how
these diseases work. She explains that hepatitis B is a DNA virus
that largely infects foreign-born populations because the U.S. has
had the means to vaccinate and test for this disease. It spreads by
a vertical transmission from mother to child. Hepatitis C is
transmitted through blood exposures, so through intravenous drug
use, blood transfusions, and organ donations done before 1992 when
testing became available.
Even though each can exist in the body silently for years, they can still do tremendous damage in the liver, and increase one’s risk for cirrhosis, cancer, and other disease of the liver that may need liver transplantation.
For more, see the Mt. Sinai
Liver Diseases Division website https://www.mountsinai.org/care/liver-diseases/research
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