Hepatitis C a 'Silent Killer'

95% of people with hepatitis do not know they are infected

How can you deal with a disease you don't even know you have?

Hepatitis C has become a global problem with devastating consequences. It is also thought to be the cause of the rising death toll in the world.

But 95% of people with the disease do not know they are sick, so it is important to get tested for the disease.

Some projects in India, the Netherlands, Mongolia and Australia have been awarded for raising awareness about the disease.

Medical experts call hepatitis C a 'silent epidemic' because 95% of sufferers are unaware that they have the disease. Many sufferers are addicted to illicit drugs

Globally, about 150 million people with hepatitis C go untreated, resulting in an estimated 700,000 deaths each year.

Hepatitis C is the most dangerous of the five types of liver disease and is the only one of which there is no vaccine available.

Symptoms of the disease do not appear for many years, but when hepatitis C is diagnosed, it is too late to be treated and damage to the liver can turn into cancer.

Long-term effects of hepatitis C

  • 75 to 85% HCV patients develop fatal diseases
  • 60 to 70% suffer from fatal liver diseases
  • 20% develop liver cirrhosis in 20 to 30 years
  • 5% die of cirrhosis or liver cancer

Experts say the death toll from the disease is higher because it receives less attention and funding from policymakers than other diseases such as AIDS, TB or malaria.

The disease is spread in the blood and is transmitted by improper disinfection of medical devices, but most cases are caused by needle-sharing.

Two-thirds of the world's hepatitis C cases are caused by drug users due to their unsafe activities.

Testing of these cases has become so important that if hepatitis C is diagnosed during a test, antiviral drugs can help 90% of patients.

Many countries and organizations are now working on ways to raise awareness about the disease and improve diagnosis rates.

Mongolia has the third highest rate of hepatitis C.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a project in this regard in Manipur, a small state in northeastern India.

98% of drug addicts in the area are infected with hepatitis C, although they have free HIV tests but no hepatitis C.

Under this program, a community network has been developed for testing across the state.

"We conducted extensive testing with a general pharmaceutical company that provided high-speed diagnostic kits to people," says Raj Kumar Nalnikanta, head of the Community Network for Empowerment project.

Under the program, at least 1,100 people took the test, half of whom contracted the disease.

The highest level of liver cancer cases in the world is found in Mongolia, which is six times higher than the international average.

A silent Global Killer

  • 13-15 crores People are infected with hepatitis C
  • 95% of people who have hepatitis C or B do not know they have the disease.
  • About 80% of people with hepatitis C do not have symptoms.
  • Hepatitis C kills 700,000 people each year with liver disease
  • Central and East Asia and North Africa have the highest rates of hepatitis

Since 2011, clinics in rural areas of the country have been testing a method of screening called fire, which tests people who are more likely to get the disease.

These include people whose relatives have cancer.

The next goal of the project is to spread the fire to 21 provinces.

However, many experts say that screening alone will not improve the situation because the drugs that treat hepatitis C are very expensive.

Some countries have introduced common types of these drugs which have brought down the prices.

But critics say the decision to fight hepatitis is in the hands of the rulers, who will have to make screening and treatment cheaper.

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