Hepatitis C cases continue to drop thanks to new treatments

Number of new cases per year Hepatitis C archipelago continues to decline grateful new therapy and the strategies employed to detect the presence of the virus in settings where morbidity rates are often high.According to the data handled Ministry of Health, Government of the Canary Islands, In 2022, there will be 247 new cases in the region, 31 fewer than the 278 confirmed cases in 2021. Like the rest of the country, most of the new cases were between the ages of 35 and 59, although 38.9% of patients had advanced fibrosis, the regional administration reported. Additionally, the number of tests confirmed in primary care last year was very similar to the number reported in hospital consultations.

«The natural history of the disease is changing with the advent of direct-acting antiviral drugs starting in 2014. For this reason, the World Health Organization believes that hepatitis C can be eradicated by 2030″, Dr. Ildefonso Quiñones, Physician, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Negrin, Gran Canaria Said. Hepatology.

effectiveness of treatment

exactly The cure rate of these drugs is close to 100%This fact is very different from the results recorded for classical therapy (therapies used before these drugs) based on the combination of interferon and ribavirin, which is about 50% effective and whose success depends on genetics type virus. In addition, this treatment has many side effects and must be continued for a longer period of time. In addition, interferon needs to be injected subcutaneously.

“Now the standard therapy is oral. It is usually used for two months and does not cause invasive effects. It is true that some patients may need another month of treatment, but others are cured in just six weeks”, clarified the doctor, who also noted that the most widely used drugs are marketed under the names Epclusa and Mavyret.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It is usually asymptomatic for many years, which can lead to severe liver damage.

Different from hepatitis B, the genome of the pathogen that causes hepatitis B is RNA particles, while the essence of the pathogen that causes hepatitis B is DNA molecules. “The behavior of the two is very different. The B virus is much more silent and can cause cancer without first causing the cirrhosis stage. So the management we do with the two viruses in terms of preventing damage and cancer is completely different, said the expert.

However, existing drugs for the treatment of B virus have not yet reached the level of effectiveness shown for drugs for C virus. “Fortunately, we have excellent results in the management of hepatitis C, but there is still a long way to go before we can achieve the same results in hepatitis C,” said the specialist at the North Island Reference Centre.

According to statistics provided by the agency Ministry of Health, Only three new cases of hepatitis B were diagnosed last year, three fewer than in 2021, when six new cases will eventually be detected. As with hepatitis C, the main route of transmission is direct contact with blood, but infection can also occur through unprotected sexual intercourse. However, there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, and the scientific community has not yet developed this resource to avoid hepatitis C infection. Precautions can also be taken to prevent hepatitis A, which is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water, or through contact with infected feces.

The Health Administration recalled that in 2022 a multidisciplinary working group was established, led by the Epidemiological Surveillance Unit of the Directorate General of Public Health of the Canary Islands Health Service (SCS)., developing a hepatitis C control plan in the Canary Islands. Currently, the final writing phase of the first draft is coming to an end, highlighting three basic strategic lines that must be followed: education, training, and micro and macro elimination. As a result, the archipelago has become one of the first communities in the country to develop a plan to eradicate the disease.

Apart fromMinistry of Health develops strategic plan to tackle hepatitis C, which makes it possible to take action to detect the presence of microorganisms in the most vulnerable environments. The initiative considers launching a screening program in the general population.

Pandemic complicates goals set for 2030

“Before the arrival of the pandemic, predictions at the international level were that Spain would be one of the first countries to eradicate hepatitis C by 2030, but the coronavirus has made this difficult to achieve,” the agency said. Dr. Ildefonso Quiñones is Dr. Negrín, Physician, Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital of the University of Gran Canaria, and member of the Department of Hepatology. “Screening, management and some treatments have been delayed, so we’re likely to experience a slight delay,” the doctor noted. To achieve this, doctors are working on screening to detect the presence of the virus in the population. Experts believe that “if we want to eliminate this disease, we must invest in enabling micro-eradication and reducing the risk of transmission”. | Yang Ming

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