Dimapur, September 16: With the objective to create more knowledge on Viral Hepatitis C, about the test and diagnosis and treatment aspect with the new treatment drugs called Directly Acting Antivirals (DAAs), ARK Foundation with support from the Social Welfare Department, and in collaboration with Shansham organization, Mon conducted a program on “Treatment Literacy on Hepatitis C” with drug users and staff of Shansham Organization, Mon, on September 12. The program was held through a virtual connection by the resource person from Kohima.
Participants of the workshop included drug users and NGO staff, where Ketho Angami, President, ARK Foundation, facilitated the session as the resource person. Subject matters on various issues about HCV, test and diagnostics and treatment with the new oral regimens were imparted to the participants.
The program started with Ketho sharing the objectives of the workshop and the need to put special emphasis on the need for the drug using community to take ownership of the HCV issue since it is preventable and curable.
As a brief about what is HCV, he said that Hepatitis is derived from the Greek word “inflammation of the liver”. That the virus is found in the blood and very small amounts have also been found in the semen and vaginal fluid.
Risk practice included sharing of infected Needles and Syringes, Tattoing equipments, razor or toothbrush etc. while other factors like casual contact such as hand shaking, hugging, sharing of glasses or utensils does not spread it, he said.
On the symptoms, he said that most people have no symptoms when first infected; about 20% will experience nausea, abdominal pain, appetite loss, fatigue, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), and dark urine. However he shared that Hepatitis C can be treated-and cured -with the new therapies are currently available.
This was followed by a presentation on the nature of HCV testing which starts initially with the antibody test followed by a series of other diagnostic test and monitoring test during and post treatment.
He mentioned that, the first step is to do an HCV antibody test. During this test, if the result is negative means the person has never been exposed to HCV infection. However if the result is positive, the person need to do HCV viral load (RNA),to confirm whether the immune system has cleared it spontaneously or it is still prevailing as an active chronic HCV infection. This will mean that, if someone has detectable HCV RNA in their bloodstream, it means that the person is currently infected with HCV.
He also shared about the need to undergo some other clinical test to assess the condition of the liver to determine the treatment drugs and its duration. Once the person undergoes all these test, he is ready to be initiated on treatment with the new treatment drugs namely Sofosbuvir in combination with Daclatasvir or Ledipasvir with the Genotype test not a requisite anymore.
Overall, he stated that the goal of the treatment is to cure the disease and reach an undetectable HCV viral load during treatment and at 24 weeks after treatment has ended, while the second goal is to improve liver health by reducing the liver inflammation to a great extent.
There was a round of question and answer session. Ketho concluded the program by thanking the partner NGOs for jointly organizing the program and also thanked the Social Welfare Department for their support.
(Page News Service)