July 24, 2013

Hepatitis C on sharp rise in China

Updated: 2013-07-24 18:41

By Shan Juan (chinadaily.com.cn)

Cases of hepatitis C are on the rise on the mainland, but many don't get proper treatment because they are unaware of their diagnosis, experts warned.

According to Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention, China reported more than 200,000 new hepatitis C cases on the mainland, a 185 percent increase since 2006.

Hepatitis C is an infection affecting the liver. About 80 percent of the infected develop a chronic infection.

With timely diagnosis and treatment, the infection could be highly prevented or cured, said Wei Lai, president of the Chinese Society of Liver Diseases of the Chinese Medical Association, at an awareness-raising event.

The event was held by the China Center for Health Education of the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Tuesday to mark World Hepatitis Day on July 28.

Government estimations put the number of sufferers nationwide at more than 10 million on the mainland but some experts said that was a serious underestimate.

Nevertheless, “the top challenge in curbing the disease is now detecting the sufferers”, Wei noted.

Currently, fewer than 2 percent of those diagnosed with hepatitis C have ever sought medical attention, he said.

“The percentage of those receiving proper medication is even lower,” he said.

According to Wei, a majority of sufferers experience minimal or no symptoms at first. But chronic infection could lead to cirrhosis or scarring of the liver.

Patients with cirrhosis are more likely to develop liver failure or cancer.

“Some simply miss the chance to get cured,” he said.

To address the problem, a nationwide hepatitis C screening program will be launched by the top health authority to help more sufferers for early intervention, he added.

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