Over 90% of adults above the age of 50 carry the virus that causes shingles; yet only 3% of Singaporeans in this age group believe they are at high risk of developing the disease
GSK holds Shingles Awareness Week to educate Singaporeans about shingles and the importance of protection against it
SINGAPORE, Feb. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- A GSK-sponsored Ipsos-MORI survey revealed only 3% of Singaporeans aged 50-79 years believe they are at high risk of developing shingles in the next 12 months. The survey among 200 respondents further reported that while 40% believe shingles is serious, only 6% spoke to a healthcare professional (HCP) about protection against the disease.
It has been estimated that over 90% of adults above the age of 50 already carry the virus that causes shingles,[i] and one in three adults will develop shingles in their lifetime.[ii]
Another study involving respondents from Singapore, alongside those from Hong Kong S.A.R., the Taiwan region, and South Korea, reported a similar finding of low perceived risk of shingles among the public. Presented at the 8th Asian Vaccine Conference in September last year, the study results showed a substantial knowledge gap among the public about the disease and its causes, long-term impact, and at-risk population.[iii]
This week, from February 27 to March 5, GSK holds the Shingles Awareness Week in Singapore, aiming to help educate Singaporeans about shingles and the importance of protection against it. Activities lined up throughout the week include a health forum and several other efforts directed at the public, such as working with some celebrities to encourage adult Singaporeans to speak with their HCPs to learn more about shingles and the preventative steps they can take to reduce their risk of getting it.
"Singapore is a fast-aging country, with one in four Singaporeans reaching the age of at least 65 by 2030. Prevention of infectious diseases, such as shingles, is critically important to minimise ill health and hospitalisations among seniors. How can we encourage more Singaporeans to speak with their doctors about the risks and complications associated with shingles, as well as the available options to prevent it?" said Dr. Carol Tan, a geriatrician from The Good Life Medical Center.
Dr. Tan adds: "We have learnt the costly lesson that if we do not prevent infections, not only can these affect the health of our people, especially the seniors, but these can also negatively impact the economic health of our nation. A key pillar of Healthier SG launched by government is vaccinations. However, the government cannot do it alone. Partnership is key, and we need the contributions of all stakeholders."
About Shingles Awareness Week
Shingles Awareness Week (from February 27 to March 5) is a global awareness week dedicated to shingles and the increased risk of developing shingles amongst older adults. Jointly led by GSK and the International Federation on Ageing (IFA), this is the second ever Shingles Awareness Week and has been set up to encourage candid conversations about the debilitating complications of shingles.
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox.[iv] Nearly all older adults have the VZV dormant in their nervous system, that may reactivate with advancing age.[iv] One in 3 adults will develop shingles in their lifetime.[iv] As people age, the cells in the immune system lose the ability to maintain a strong and effective response against VZV reactivation.[v]
Shingles typically presents as an itchy rash, with painful blisters across the chest, abdomen or face. The pain associated with shingles is often described as burning, shooting, or stabbing. Once the rash is gone, some patients can experience post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a painful condition which can last for several months. PHN is the most common complication of shingles.[vi]
GSK is a global biopharma company with a purpose to unite science, technology, and talent to get ahead of disease together. Find out more at www.gsk.com/en-gb/company/.
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[i] Bricout H, et al. Herpes zoster-associated mortality in Europe: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2015;15:466.
[ii] Harpaz. Prevention of herpes Zoster. June 2008. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5705a1.htm Last accessed: 20th December 2021
[iii] Chen J et al. Phase one results from a multi-country study on public and physician's knowledge, attitude, and practice towards herpes zoster (HZ) and HZ vaccination in Asia. The 8th Asian Vaccine Conference, 16-18 September 2022
[iv] Johnson RW et al. Herpes zoster epidemiology, management, and disease and economic burden in Europe: a multidisciplinary perspective. Therapeutic Advances in Vaccines. 2015;3(4):109-120.
[v] Chen SY, et al. Incidence of herpes zoster in patients with altered immune function. Infection 2014;42:325–34.
[vi] Dworkin RH, et al. Diagnosis and assessment of pain associated with herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia. J Pain 2008;9:S37–44.
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