Hepatitis C: Five keys to a disease that infects 1.5 million people every year

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 290,000 people died from hepatitis C in 2019 (Getty Images)

Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus, usually Causes severe liver damage.

This virus may cause acute or chronic hepatitisThe symptoms can be mild or severe, Becomes chronic and leads to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C virus It is spread through the blood. Most infections are caused by exposure to infected blood due to unsafe injections or health care practices, untested blood transfusions, consumption Injection drugs and sex Involves contact with blood.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection (Getty Images)

Until recently, hepatitis C treatment required weekly injections and oral medications that many people with HCV were unable to take due to other health problems or unacceptable side effects.

This is changing. Currently, chronic hepatitis C virus can usually be cured with daily oral medication for two to six months.

Next, database Compiled the five keys provided World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health Prevent this silent disease, detect it, modify risk factors, diagnose and treat it promptly.

Hepatitis C virus is spread through blood (Getty Images)

It is believed that there 58 million people with chronic hepatitis C virus infection Approximately 1.5 million new infections occur each year in the world. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents and children are chronically infected with the virus.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 290,000 people died from hepatitis C in 2019, mainly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (primary liver cancer).

this Hepatitis C By Direct contact with infected blood:

-Sharing needles, syringes, joints or sharp objects with infected people.

– When using non-disposable or properly sterilized materials for tattooing or piercing.

– When having sex without using a condom or other barrier method.

Symptoms of hepatitis C may include: tiredness, fatigue (weakness), nausea or vomiting, fever and chills, dark urine and light-colored stools (Photo: UNAM)

this People who received blood transfusions before 1994 may also have been exposed to the virus, because it was unknown at the time. Transmission also occurs during pregnancy, although this is a rare route. Hepatitis C is not spread through breast milk, food or water, Nor through casual contact (for example, by hugging or kissing) or sharing food or drinks with an infected person.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent infection. Hepatitis C. Direct contact with the blood of others should be avoided. Do not share toothbrushes or other personal items such as needles, razors, ETC

It is vital to use barrier methods such as condoms, latex pads, gloves or fingers in all sexual relationships (anal, oral and vaginal) as it is the most effective measure to prevent sexual intercourse. Hepatitis C and any sexually transmitted infections. When getting a tattoo or piercing, or before any invasive and/or cosmetic medical procedure, it is important to require the use of sterile materials.

Early diagnosis can prevent health problems caused by infection and avoid the spread of the virus (Getty Images)

In acute infection, symptoms may appear 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure to the virus.symptom Hepatitis C Chronic liver disease can take up to 30 years to manifest, during which time liver damage is often asymptomatic.

Symptoms of hepatitis C may include: Tiredness, fatigue (weakness), nausea or vomiting, fever and chills, dark urine, light-colored stools. There is also yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes (jaundice), blood clotting problems, vomiting blood or black stools (gastrointestinal bleeding), and abdominal distension with fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites).

Because new hepatitis C virus infections usually cause no symptoms, new cases may be underdiagnosed if they occur recently.Refers chronic infectionis also often undiagnosed because it remains asymptomatic for decades until symptoms develop secondary to severe liver damage. Diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection occurs in two stages:

Hepatitis C virus operates silently, showing no signs of manifestation for years (Gettyimages)

Antibody testing Fight the virus with serological testing to reveal infection.

– If said antibody tests positive, proceed Another test that detects viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) To determine chronic infection and whether treatment is needed. This test is important because about 30% of infected people spontaneously eliminate the virus through a strong immune response and do not require treatment, but will continue to test positive on an antibody detection test. HCV RNA testing can be performed in the laboratory or in the setting of patient care using simple equipment.

Innovative diagnostic tests are being finalized, such as tests that detect viral core antigens, which will allow for one-step diagnosis of active infection.

Once chronic HCV infection is diagnosed, the extent of liver damage (fibrosis and cirrhosis) should be assessed by liver biopsy or various non-invasive tests. Liver lesions will help guide treatment and clinical decisions.

Diagnostic methods for hepatitis C have improved in recent years

Early diagnosis It prevents health problems caused by infection and prevents the spread of viruses. The World Health Organization recommends testing for people who may be at higher risk of infection.

In settings where hepatitis C virus antibody seroprevalence is high in the general population (can be defined as more than 2% or more than 5%), The World Health Organization also recommends screening and specific testing of blood donors or targeting certain high-risk groups, such as immigrants from endemic areas, health workers, injecting drug users, prisoners and others in closed settings, men who have sex with men, sex workers and people living with HIV.

Likewise, WHO recommends offering all adults the possibility to be tested for hepatitis C virus and linking them to prevention, care and treatment services.

Globally, an estimated 37.7 million people are infected with HIV, of whom approximately 2.3 million (6.2%) test positive for hepatitis virus infection on serological tests. C, past or present. Worldwide, chronic liver disease is a cause of high morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV.

New oral drug revolutionizes hepatitis C arsenal (Getty)

this Hepatitis C It can be cured. In recent years, new antiviral drugs have emerged that allow short-term treatment (8 or 12 weeks).treat Hepatitis C It is versatile, safe and effective 95% of the time. Direct-acting antiviral drugs can cure more than 95% of cases of this infection, but access to diagnosis and treatment is limited.

Oral treatment with these drugs has few side effects, can cure most infected people, and treatment is short-lived (usually 12 to 24 weeks, depending on the presence of cirrhosis). In 2022, the World Health Organization released new recommendations for the treatment of children and adolescents The same full-genotype direct-acting antivirals prescribed for adults.

In 2023, the World Health Organization has chosen the theme “One Life, One Liver” to illustrate the importance of this organ in maintaining health and the need to strengthen the prevention, detection and treatment of viral hepatitis to prevent liver diseases and achieve Hepatitis elimination target 2030.

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