Hepatitis C screening urged in India
Infection is totally preventable say medical experts Infection is totally
preventable, say medical experts
# Risk of transmission through sex relatively less
# A vaccine is yet to be developed to combat HCV
CHENNAI: Experts have called for campaigns to promote screening for the
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which is currently estimated to have put around 15
million patients in the country at risk of fatal liver damage.
The core message: although anyone can get Hepatitis C, the viral infection
is totally preventable by following safe methods while undergoing blood
transfusion, visiting the local saloon or having a tooth extracted. The risk
of virus transmission through sex was relatively less, experts said.
Though a vaccine was yet to be developed for HCV, the common genotype of the
virus in the Indian population was responsive to treatment with therapies
such as interferon, said Shiv Kumar Sarin, Head of Gastroenterology, G.B.
Pant Hospital, New Delhi. While the success rate in treatment of US
genotypes was around 50 per cent, it was around 80 per cent in relation with
the common virus genotypes in India.
Dr. Sarin was in Chennai on Saturday to deliver the inaugural oration on
current concepts in diagnosis and management of Hepatitis C instituted by
Dr. Sarin, who also leads the ICMR's National Task Force of HCV, pointed out
that though developed countries used Nucleic Acid Technology for HCV
screening, the option in India was to undertake the SGPT or marker of liver
injury a few months after one has visited a blood donation unit or dental
Epidemiological surveys by University of Madras had indicated a Hepatitis B
seroprevalence of 4 per cent and Hepatitis C seroprevalence of 1.2 per cent
in Tamil Nadu which was more or less consistent with rates in the country,
said Dr. S. P. Thyagarajan, Vice-Chancellor.
The survey was conducted by the University's Institute of Basic Medical
Sciences which was a national referral centre for viral hepatitis.
Dr. Thyagarajan stressed the importance of screening antenatal women to
prevent mother-child transmission of the virus.
T. S. Chandrasekar, Chief Gastroenterologist, MedIndia, pointed out that
occupation-wise, doctors and nurses were at increased risk of HCV infection.
Preventive measures included using protective wear.
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