Dimapur, September 18: ARK Foundation with support from the Social Welfare Department and in collaboration with Bethesda YWC, Duncan TI Project, Dimapur conducted a programme on ‘Treatment literacy on Hepatitis C’ with the community of injecting drug users and staff on September 18. The programme was held through virtual connection by resource person from Kohima. It was conducted with the objective to create more literacy on Viral Hepatitis C, about the test and diagnosis and treatment aspect with the new treatment drugs called Directly Acting Antivirals (DAAs).
President, ARK Foundation, Ketho Angami shared 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.
On the aspect of Viral Hepatitis, he put special focus on Hepatitis C, by saying 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, tattooing equipments, razor or toothbrush etc. “You cannot get HCV from: casual contact (kissing, shaking hands, sharing glasses or eating utensils), and that one can get HCV more than once, even if you already cleared it with treatment or, by your own immune response. It can be prevented significantly by using clean injection equipment. There is no HCV vaccine (but researchers are working on preventive and therapeutic vaccines),” 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 new therapies that are currently available.
This was followed by a presentation on the nature of HCV testing. 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.
Later there was a round of question and answer session. (Page News Service)