World Hemophilia Day is observed on April 17 every year to raise awareness and pave the way for provisions of better treatment and care. Though there is no known cure, treatment at the early stages can help to manage the condition. This year's theme is "Equitable access for all: recognising all bleeding disorders”.

What is Hemophilia?

Hemophilia is a rare blood disorder that affects the ability of the blood to clot properly. Blood contains many proteins called clotting factors that can help stop bleeding. People with hemophilia have low levels of either factor VIII or factor IX.

How is it caused?

It is caused by a mutation or change, in one of the genes, that provides instructions for making the clotting factor proteins needed to form a blood clot. It can result in bleeding within joints that can lead to chronic disease and pain, and bleeding in the head, which can lead to seizures and paralysis. It can even lead to death if the bleeding cannot be stopped.

Types of Hemophilia

(a) Hemophilia A (Classic Hemophilia): caused by a lack or decrease of clotting factor VIII (b) Hemophilia B (Christmas Disease): caused by a lack or decrease of clotting factor IX.

Common symptoms

Bleeding into the joints causes swelling and pain or tightness in the joints, skin bleeding (bruising) causing a build-up of blood in the area, bleeding of mouth and gums that are hard to stop and frequent nosebleeds that are hard to stop.

According to studies, hemophilia occurs in about 1 of every 5,000 male births. Hemophilia A is about four times as common as hemophilia B, and about half of those affected have the severe form.

About two-thirds of people with Hemophilia have a family history of the disease. Blood screening tests are the only way to diagnose the condition. Also, most cases of Hemophilia are severe and need preventive treatment.

The best way to treat hemophilia is to replace the missing blood clotting factor so that the blood can clot properly. This is done by infusing (administering through a vein) commercially prepared factor concentrates.