According to many clinical studies, between 4 to 7
percent of the Pakistani population (or 6 to 10 million people) may be
suffering from Hepatitis-C. The liver is a vital organ, located on the
right side of your abdomen. Each day, your liver performs more than 500
different vital functions including:
vitamins, minerals, iron and sugars
* Acting as filter for cleaning the
blood and removing toxins
* Producing proteins,bile and blood
* Regulating cholesterol and any
chemical or medication that enters the bloodstream
* Converting food into chemicals
necessary for energy
* Maintaining hormonal balance
If the liver becomes damaged due to chronic infection
with hepatitis C, all of its functions can be affected. Hepatitis C (HCV)
is a viral infection of the liver, transmitted primarily through
infected blood and blood products. It is one of a family of six
hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E, and G) that cause liver inflammation,
and it accounts for the majority of cases of viral hepatitis.
Hepatitis-C is described as a "silent" virus as patients can
appear and feel healthy for ten to twenty years before they develop
symptoms, while some never experience any symptoms. No vaccine exists
for Hepatitis-C, but approximately 15 percent of people with Hepatitis-C
develop an acute infection and recover completely within six months
without medication. The remaining 85 percent go on to develop chronic
hepatitis C and may experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea,
vomiting, muscle and joint aches, and soreness in the abdomen.
Extreme fatigue is very common, causing many
Hepatitis-C patients to reduce their daily activities, and a well
balanced diet is essential. However, over the counter medications,
vitamins and nutritional supplements should not be taken without
consulting a physician. Moreover, it is critical for people with
Hepatitis-C to avoid the consumption of any alcohol. Two of the most
serious complications of chronic hepatitis C are cirrhosis and liver
cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), both of which may eventually lead to
the need for a liver transplant, although this progression can take
decades to develop.
Cirrhosis is a scarring of the liver, decreasing the
amount of normal liver tissue and liver functions. Within 10 to 20 years
of infection, 25 percent of people with chronic Hepatitis-C develop
cirrhosis. Liver cancer occurs when malignant cells begin to grow in the
tissues of the liver. It can be part of the progression from cirrhosis,
and approximately 3-5 percent of those infected with Hepatitis-C may
eventually develop hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver transplant may be a
last resort for some patients whose liver is failing due to cirrhosis or
Pakistan is said to be one of the countries, where
injection usage is highest. Therefore, disposiable syringes should be
used they should not be recapped and glass syringes should be avoided.
Moreover, screening of blood should be done before transfusion.
Hepatitis C patients now have a remarkable new
treatment option: Peg interferon alfa 2a (40 KD), which is injected only
once a week. A recently developed process called PEGYLATION now helps
interferon to last longer in the body. As a result, a PEGYLATED
INTERFERON improves the chances that the molecule will reach and kill
the hepatitis C infected cells. 87 percent of Pakistani population that
are suffering from Hepatitis-C are of genotype 3, which has a best
chance of cure and requires treatment for six months.
Spend a few moments to think, recall and answer the
1. Did you get
a blood transfusion without Hepatitis C Screening?
Were you injected with a glass syringe/injected with used syringe?
Do you experience chronic fatigue/tiredness for which your doctor is
unable to find any explanation?
Were your Liver enzymes (ALT) ever raised?
Do you have any tattoos?
Do you have any body piercing ?
Do you have contact with blood in the workplace (e.g. healthcare worker,
police personnel and firefighter)?
Do you live with a person who is infected with Hepatitis C and have
shared items such as nail clippers, razors or toothbrush that might have
had blood on them?
Have you ever been on haemodialysis?
Did you get an organ transplant?
Did you have a haircut/shave where you suspected the scissors/comb/razor
were not sterilized properly?
Has a member of your immediate family been diagnosed with Hepatitis B or
If any of the responses to the worksheet were YES —
Your Doctor will review the worksheet with you and probably ask some
additional questions. A simple blood test to determine presence of
Hepatitis C might be recommended.
In view of the possible serious complication of
Hepatitis-C it is better to know and simple precaution can play
important role in protection against this silent killer.