IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

HEPATITIS C

16th October, 2023 Health

Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: www.fitpaa.com

Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Egypt has made "unprecedented progress" in its efforts to eliminate hepatitis C, becoming the first country to achieve "gold tier" status on the path to eliminating the disease.

Details

  • Egypt met WHO criteria for eliminating hepatitis C, ensuring safe blood and injections, diagnosing 87% of cases, and treating 93% of diagnosed individuals.
  • Egypt's initiative reduced hepatitis C prevalence from 10% in 2016 to less than 1% in 2019, making significant progress.
  • Egypt's success resulted from surveys, economic burden awareness, customized elimination plans, and affordable treatment costing less than $50 per patient.
  • Local manufacturing in Egypt reduced medical treatment costs to below $50 per patient, ensuring affordability and accessibility for those in need.

Picture Courtesy: Assunta Hospital Malaysia

Hepatitis C

  • Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. It is a leading cause of liver disease, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.
  • It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus is transmitted through contact with contaminated blood, most commonly through:
    • Sharing needles and other equipment for drug use is a common mode of transmission.
    • Inadequately sterilized medical equipment, such as needles and syringes, can transmit HCV.
    • Healthcare workers are at risk if they are accidentally stuck with a needle that has infected blood.
    • Pregnant women with HCV can transmit the virus to their babies during childbirth, though this is not common.
  • Many people with hepatitis C do not experience any symptoms, especially in the early stages. When symptoms do occur, they can include Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), abdominal pain, Loss of appetite, Nausea and vomiting, etc.
  • It is diagnosed through blood tests that detect the presence of HCV antibodies and viral RNA in the bloodstream. Additional tests, such as liver function tests and liver biopsy, may be performed to assess the extent of liver damage.
  • It can lead to serious complications, including scarring of the liver tissue, which can lead to liver failure.
  • Advances in medical research have led to the development of highly effective antiviral medications for hepatitis C. These direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are taken as oral tablets and have a high cure rate, often exceeding 95%.

Prevention

‚óŹDo not share needles or other drug paraphernalia. Practice safe sex, and do not engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners.

‚óŹBlood and organ donations are screened for HCV to prevent transmission.

‚óŹHealthcare workers should follow strict protocols for needle safety to prevent accidental exposures.

‚óŹPregnant women with HCV can work with healthcare providers to reduce the risk of transmission to the baby during childbirth.

‚óŹProviding clean needles and syringes to injection drug users can reduce the risk of HCV transmission.

Must Read Articles:

World Hepatitis Day: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/world-hepatitis-day-12

PRACTICE QUESTION

Q. Consider the following statements in the context of Hepatitis C:

1. It can be diagnosed through a physical examination.

2. It can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during childbirth.

3. It can lead to liver failure due to scarring of the liver tissue.

4. There is currently no vaccine available for Hepatitis C.

How many of the above statements is/are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: C

Explanation:

Statement 1 is incorrect: Hepatitis C cannot be diagnosed through a physical examination alone. A healthcare provider cannot determine the presence of Hepatitis C based on visible symptoms or physical signs. Diagnosis requires specific blood tests that detect the presence of HCV antibodies and viral RNA in the bloodstream. These tests are essential for confirming the infection.

Statement 2 is correct: Hepatitis C can be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. This mode of transmission is known as perinatal or vertical transmission. However, with appropriate medical care and antiviral interventions, the risk of transmission from mother to child can be significantly reduced.

Statement 3 is correct: Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver complications, including the development of liver fibrosis (scarring of the liver tissue). Over time, this scarring can progress to cirrhosis, a condition where extensive scarring disrupts the liver's function. If left untreated, cirrhosis can lead to liver failure, which is a life-threatening condition.

Statement 4 is correct: There is no approved vaccine for Hepatitis C. While there are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, there is no specific vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. Preventative measures primarily focus on avoiding exposure to infected blood, such as not sharing needles and practising safe sex.