February 22, 2014

Hepatitis C- An emerging epidemic: HepCoN

Morung Express News | February 22, 2014

Dimapur: Hepatitis Coalition of Nagaland (HepCoN) expressing its concern on the HCV disease burden in Nagaland, stated that “if Hepatitis C (HCV) is not addressed with a collaborated effort, then the day is not far when the epidemic proportion may go beyond control.”

Alarming number of HCV reported cases in Wokha, Phek and Kohima

Highlighting the need of prevention through mass awareness campaign at all levels as the key to containing the Hepatitis C Virus in the state, HepCoN and NUN in partnership with IDS, FDS TDUN, TUN conducted a one day sensitization meeting at Tuensang Town Hall on February 21.

Total 80 representatives from NGOs and various Health Service Centers including Grace Chapel, ART center, DAN, and some participants from Tuensang OST Center participated in the meeting.

A press release stated that the resource persons Abou and Ketho of HepCoN, spoke on various subject matter regarding the alarming number of HCV reported cases in the context of Wokha, Phek and Kohima district. Topics for the programme also include basics of Hepatitis and its types including HCV, its routes of transmission, prevention, and treatment services in Nagaland.

The programme started with keynote address by Ketho with a slide presentation of some available data, which highlighted a high HCV prevalence rate (IBBA, R-2) in Wokha with 20.8% and Phek district with 8.7% and a general population data of Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) of 1.8% prevalence rate.

He described the different existing types of Hepatitis Virus such a HAV, HBV, HCV, HDV, HEV and HGV. On describing these kinds of Viruses, He mentioned where the viruses are found, how it is transmitted, how it is not transmitted and how it can be prevented. Special concentration was given on discussing the nature of Hepatitis C virus by explaining on the presence of the virus in the Human Blood, while small amount can be found in the semen and the vaginal secretions during sex. The routes of transmission explained were through the sharing of infected Needles and syringes and drug injecting Paraphernalia, sharing of tattoo equipments, personal care items like toothbrush, comb or even razors.

He also mentioned as to how the virus is not transmitted such as shaking hands, sharing of glass and utensils, using public toilets. He also spoke on its preventive measures such as using clean needles and syringes, not sharing personal equipments like razors, combs, Tattooing needle and inkwells, always practicing safer sexual practices.

Abou Mere spoke on the types of diagnostic test, which are Antibody test followed by confirmatory test through Viral Load and Genotyping test. He also mentioned the symptoms while also of the drugs that are used to treat HCV with a combination therapy of Pegylated interferon and Ribavirin of 24 and 48 weeks depending on the genotype. He announced that the drug is available but because of the high price many are not able to initiate on their treatment and people on treatment also undergoes some side effects like Insomnia, fever, Joint pains etc. He stressed on adopting a positive lifestyle if one is tested positive for HCV like avoiding fatty food, fast foods, doing light exercise, avoiding or minimizing alcohol and drugs consumption and following up with doctor six monthly for monitoring.

A member from HepCoN shared his experience as a person living with Hepatitis C. He shared that recently through HepCoN, he came to know more of HCV and went to NHAK for testing. He was tested antibody reactive but not disheartened. He encouraged the participants to always practice safe methods and to spread awareness at their own organizational level. Earlier, Thapli Lama of TDUN delivered the welcome address and Imsii Pongen, Program Officer NERO-DAC, pronounced vote of thanks.

HepCoN has conducted similar programme in Dimapur, Kohima, Wokha, Peren, and Zunheboto district. HepCoN aims to reach out to all the remaining five districts within the next few months. HepCoN also informed that one could avail free HCV testing facilities at NHAK, FPAI in Kohima and Dimapur Civil Hospital.

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