No letup in fight against hepatitis C despite low prevalence in Kuwait

hepatitis-CKUWAIT: Although Kuwait has the lowest prevalence of hepatitis C in the region, the country continues its campaign to control if not totally eradicate the virus. Speaking at the second Hepatology Club meeting held at the Radisson Blu Hotel,ChairmanDr Bader Al-Enezi underscored Kuwait only has a 0.5 to 0.8 percent prevalence of the hepatitis virus. “It’s not high, and if you include expats too, it’s still very limited

DrEnezi said the Hepatology Club meeting comes in light of a new treatment and strategy available now. “We have a new treatment and strategy in dealing with hepatitis C.We try to prevent the consequences and complications for patients – we have available treatment to cure the disease. With this meeting, we’ll have more clarifications and recommendations to find new ways and solutions to handle the hepatitis C virus. We care for all patients

Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), affecting the liver. The infection is often asymptomatic, but once established, chronic infection can cause inflammation of the liver (chronic hepatitis). This condition can progress to scarring of the liver (fibrosis) and advanced scarring (cirrhosis). In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure or other complications of cirrhosis, including liver cancer. The hepatitis C virus is spread by blood-to-blood contact. The good news is there is a new medicine now for the hepatitis C virus.

Asked if there are preventive tools to avoid contracting the hepatitis C virus, especially during sexual activities, Enezi said people with hepatitis C can engage in normal sexual activities with their legal partners. “Sexual activities should not be halted if one has hepatitis C, because even with the virus, there is a very low rate of transmitting the disease to one’s partner. There is no need to use any preventive means, especially if one hasa single partner.As per statistics,there is a less than 2 to 5 percent probability of contracting the virus during sex. You don’t need to change your sexual behavior if you have the hepatitis C virus,” he noted.

Hepatitis is a liver condition characterized by the presence of inflammatory cells in the tissue of the organ. The condition can be self-limiting, heal on its own or can progress to acute liver infection and worse, cancer. “Hepatitis is acute when it lasts less than six months and chronic when it persists longer, and it depends on what hepatitis virus a patient may have,” stressed DrEnezi.

The hepatitis A virus is the leastdangerous viral infection – however, if contracted, it can weaken liver function. Hepatitis B is more lethal than any other hepatitis virus, and this is why the government of Kuwait has been active in its campaign to control the spread of viral infections in the country.

In an interview with Kuwait Times, DrEnezi restated that the prevalence of hepatitis in Kuwait is very low compared to other countries in Asia, particularly China. “The fact is that many people in Kuwait don’t know they have the virus. They need to consult their doctors and get injected with the hepatitis vaccine to prevent this disease from spreading,” he said.

How is it Transmitted?
Common causes of hepatitis include over-consumption of alcohol, blood transfusion and drugs. People vulnerable to hepatitis are those living with multiple sex partners, families with infected members and people who share needles/syringes-for drug use or blood transfusions, razor blades, contaminated foods, toothbrushes, unsterilized medical equipment, health workers and mother to baby transmissions. “I suggest vaccination. Kuwait has already been implementing compulsory vaccination for all children born in Kuwait, free of charge. It’s a good government initiative and it’s continuing to do so. Adults can also visit our health centers all over Kuwait to get the vaccine for a minimal charge,” DrEnezi advised.

Professor Dr Markus Peck,Secretary General of European Association for the study of Liver, was invited to the Hepatology Club meeting. He is the doctor behind guideline development and public policies connected to hepatitis in Europe. “I will be sharing our experiencesat the European Liver Association and how the techniques we learned can be transferred here in Kuwait. This meeting is a very important step to deal with the hepatitis virus in Kuwait. Education and identifying people with the disease is also very important,” Dr Peck mentioned.

By Ben Garcia

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