Extension of harm reduction measures is essential
HEALTH DESK / NEW DELHI
Improvements in screening, prevention, and treatment in high-burden countries such as India, China and Pakistan can reduce the impact of liver diseases and complications. By 2030, these measures can avert 15.1 million new hepatitis C infections and 1.5 million cirrhosis and liver cancer deaths worldwide. These findings were part of a study published in the journal Lancet.
Implementing comprehensive blood safety and infection control measures was estimated to reduce the number of new infections in 2030 by 58%.
Extending harm reduction services to 40% of people who inject drugs could reduce the number of new infections by a further 7 percentage points. Together, this would prevent 14.1 million new infections by 2030.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “HIV, HBV and HCV have similar routes of transmission. They spread by contact with infected body fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal fluid, or from a mother to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. Because of these shared routes of transmission, people at risk for HIV infection are also at risk for HBV or HCV infection. Of these, hepatitis B is more infectious. Transmission of hepatitis C virus can occur from infected fluid splashes to the conjunctiva. Hepatitis C virus can survive on environmental surfaces for up to 16 hours.”
Hepatitis B is 10 times more infectious than HCV and 50–100 times more infectious than HIV. The HBV can survive in dried blood for up to 7 days and remains capable of causing infection. This makes hepatitis B a more dangerous infection than HIV.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said “ The allocation of the budget for the National AIDS and STD Control Programme has been increased by Rs. 575 crore and it now stands at Rs. 2,500 crore vs Rs. 1,925 crore in the last budget. Now this budget should include the budget for prevention of hepatitis B and C and treatment of hepatitis C which is now curable”.
Some tips from HCFI
• Maintain quality standards for public water supplies
• Establish proper disposal systems for human feces
• Maintain hygienic practices such as handwashing with safe water, particularly before handling food
• Avoid consumption of water and/or ice of unknown purity
• Get immunized at regular intervals as advised
• Ensure safe blood transfusion and safe injection
• Test any donated blood for hepatitis B and C
• Indulge in safe sex and promote correct and consistent use of condoms