Sunday, July 17, 2016

Doctors, NGOs unite in fight against hepatitis C

A massive campaign with “No Hepatitis” theme was flagged off from the city today. Cipla Foundation carried out a yatra that aims to control this silent epidemic in the high prevalence region of Punjab by enhancing doctors’ knowledge and motivating patients to come forward and seek treatment. Doctors, hospitals, voluntary and NGOs have joined hands to launch a massive campaign in the Northern region, especially Punjab, to create awareness and sensitise people on need and innovative ways of screening for hepatitis. Hepatitis C is called a silent epidemic because most people do not even know when they are suffering from it. Infected persons are unaware of their chronic carrier status and continue to infect others. “People with chronic hepatitis c can live for decades without symptoms or feeling sick and do not know they are infected. When symptoms do appear, they are often a sign of advanced liver disease,” said Dr Ajit Sood, professor and Head, Department of Gastroenterology, DMCH. Dr Sood said, “However, targeting the prevention aspect alone is not enough. There is a large section of unaware infected patients, who are not getting diagnosed, but are adding to the disease burden by helping in spread of infection. There is a need of proper awareness among the public, patients and health care providers about the availability of diagnostic and treatment modalities for HCV. The screening (testing for HCV) of target population can also help in early diagnosis and treatment of the patients.” As per experts, hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through multiple ways. Today, most people become infected with hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs.

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