‘Hepatitis C cure with direct-acting antivirals’
Dimapur, Sep. 15 (EMN): Viral Hepatitis C (VHC) can be treated and cured with a new drug called Direct-Acting Antivirals (DAAs). The drug shows a cure rate as high as 96% with minimal side effects, said Ketho Angami, the ARK Foundation president.
Angami informed this during a virtual programme on “Treatment literacy on hepatitis C”, conducted by the ARK Foundation with support from the Social Welfare department and in collaboration with Shansham Organisation, Mon on September 12, informed an update.
The programme was organised with the objective to give knowledge on VHC, its test, diagnosis and treatment aspect with the new treatment drug DAAs.
Ketho shared the objectives of the workshop and emphasised on the need for the drug using community to take ownership of the HCV issue, since it is preventable and curable.
He said hepatitis is derived from the greek word “inflammation of the liver”. The virus is found in the blood and a very small amount is also found in semen and vaginal fluid.
HCV testing initially starts with the anti-body test followed by a series of other diagnostic tests and monitoring tests during and post treatment. During the test, if the result is negative, the person has never been exposed to HCV infection. However, if the result is positive, the person needs to do HCV viral load (RNA) to confirm whether the immune system has cleared it spontaneously or still prevailing as an active chronic HCV infection. If someone has detectable HCV RNA in their bloodstream, it means that the person is currently infected with HCV. However, if hepatitis C viral load is undetectable, then the infection has been cleared through an autoimmune response and treatment is therefore not required, he explained.
He also shared about the need to undergo other clinical tests to assess the condition of the liver to determine the treatment drugs and its duration.
“Once the person undergoes the tests, he is ready to be initiated on treatment with the new treatment drugs called sofosbuvir in combination with daclatasvir or ledipasvir with the genotype test. This is so because the new drugs called DAAs work across all the genotypes and the treatment period is ideal for a three months course or six months based on the condition of the liver,” Ketho elaborated.
He stated that the goal of the treatment is to cure the disease and reach an undetectable HCV viral load during treatment and at 24 weeks after treatment has ended, the second goal is to improve liver health by reducing the liver inflammation to a great extent.
Angami informed that risk practices include sharing of infected needles and syringes, tattooing kits, razor and toothbrush. He said most people have no symptoms when first infected; about 20% will experience nausea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, fatigue, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), and dark urine.