Nagaland: Ark Foundation conducts programme on treatment of Hepatitis C
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Nagaland: Ark Foundation conducts programme on treatment of Hepatitis C

By EMN Updated: Sep 18, 2020 11:46 pm

Dimapur, Sep. 18 (EMN): ARK Foundation, with support from the Social Welfare department and in collaboration with Bethesda YWC, Duncan TI Project, Dimapur, conducted a programme on “Treatment literacy on hepatitis C” with the drug users community and staff on September 18.

The programme was conducted with the objective to create literacy on viral Hepatitis C, about the test and diagnosis and treatment aspect with the new treatment drugs called Directly Acting Antivirals (DAAs), an update from Ark Foundation stated.

President of Ark Foundation and resource person, Ketho Angami, spoke about HCV, test and diagnostics, and treatment with the new oral regimens. He urged the drug using community to take ownership of the HCV issue since it is preventable and curable.

He stated that Hepatitis is a general term for swelling (inflammation) of the liver (hepa is the Greek word for liver, and it means swollen). He informed that many factors could cause the liver to swell including taking alcohol, certain medications or herbs, inhaling toxic fumes, viral hepatitis infections or other kind of infections such as leptospirosis (contacts with urine, water, or food).

On the aspect of viral hepatitis, he focused on Hepatitis C, stating that the virus is found in the blood while small amounts are also found in the semen and vaginal fluid. Risk practices, according to him, included sharing of infected needles and syringes, tattoo equipment, razor or toothbrush etc.

On the symptoms, he stated that most people have no symptoms when first infected. He added that about 20% would experience nausea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, fatigue, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), and dark urine. However, he shared that hepatitis C could be treated and cured with the new therapies that are currently available.

He also spoke on the nature of HCV testing such as antibody test which is followed by series of other diagnostic test and monitoring test during and post treatment. He mentioned that the first step was to do HCV antibody test. If the result is negative, it means the person has never been exposed to HCV infection. However, if the result is positive, then the person need to do HCV viral load (RNA) test to confirm whether the immune system has cleared it spontaneously or it is still prevailing as an active chronic HCV infection, he stated.

“If someone has detectable HCV RNA in their bloodstream, it means that the person is currently infected with HCV. However, if the hepatitis C viral load is undetectable, then the infection has been cleared off through an auto immune response and treatment is therefore not required,” Angami said.

On the treatment aspect, he stated that a new drug called DAAs work across all the genotypes and the treatment period is ideally for a three months course or six months basing on the condition of liver. He informed that the new DAA drug shows treatment cure rate as high as 96% with minimal side effects.

The first goal of the treatment, according to him, is to cure the disease and reach an undetectable HCV viral load during treatment, while the second goal is to improve liver health by reducing the liver inflammation to a great extent.

He also thanked the partner NGOs for jointly organising the programme and the Social Welfare department for the support.

By EMN Updated: Sep 18, 2020 11:46:23 pm