Tuesday, July 27, 2021, CLEVELAND, Ohio: Early testing and treatment for Hepatitis C could help 71 million people worldwide living with the disease. It will also help prevent long-term health issues such as liver disease and cancer, says an expert at a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, ahead of World Hepatitis Day on July 28.
“Everyone should be tested for Hepatitis C, the most common, but also the most deadly, form of Hepatitis. The challenge is that most people do not realize that they have Hepatitis C, as the disease often does not have symptoms. If Hepatitis C patients are not tested, then they cannot be treated, and if they do not seek treatment, then they can risk serious liver disease, liver cancer, the need for liver transplants, or even death. By the time they have symptoms and seek treatment for cirrhosis, it may be too late.”
The Realities of Hepatitis C
Worldwide, about 325 million people live with one of five Hepatitis liver diseases. 71 million people live with Hepatitis C, being the most common, but also the easiest to cure. Hepatitis C is often caused by unsafe injection practices or unsafe health care.
While anti-viral medication can cure about 95 percent of Hepatitis C infections, many people living with the disease live in low-to-middle income countries that can face challenges in diagnosis and treatment. The World Health Organization aims to reduce new Hepatitis infections by 90 percent and deaths by 65 percent by 2030.
World Hepatitis Day
With the World Hepatitis Alliance’s World Hepatitis Day 2021 being held under the theme “Hepatitis Can’t Wait,” the group emphasizes that 80 percent of people living with Hepatitis C do not know they have the disease. Worldwide, the Alliance adds that a person dies every 30 seconds from a Hepatitis-related illness.
Treatment for Hepatitis C has vastly improved over the past five years, Dr. Massoud emphasized.
“The good news is that more than 90 percent of Hepatitis C cases are cured in two to three months,” said Dr. Massoud. “Hepatitis patients no longer need to have injections, they can just take simple, easy, and safe capsules with no or only a few mild side effects.”
Currently, there are vaccines only for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, both of which can be treated with medication.
Dr. Massoud also highlighted the challenges of pregnant mothers who have Hepatitis. Especially Hepatitis B and C. Mothers who have Hepatitis B almost always transmit it to their children. Pregnant mothers with Hepatitis B should be evaluated and treated to decrease the chance of transmission. In turn, their infants should also be vaccinated. For mothers with Hepatitis C, there is a very low chance of mother-to-child transmission.
About Dr. Omar Massoud
Dr. Omar Massoud, MD is a Gastroenterology Specialist in Cleveland, OH. Dr. Massoud has more experience with Liver Disease than other specialists in his area. He is affiliated with UAB Hospital.
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic – now in its centennial year – is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey.