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It was pointed out that Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver generally due to the viral infection or due to some metabolic abnormalities. - Photo by Reuters

KARACHI: Viral hepatitis is affecting about 400 million people, out of which one third cases are due to Hepatitis-C Virus (HCV) alone.

In Pakistan about 10 million people, which is about 6 per cent of the total population, is affected with hepatitis- C.

This was stated at a lecture jointly organised by Dr. Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD).

It was pointed out that Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver generally due to the viral infection or due to some metabolic abnormalities.

In his lecture Prof. Dr. Aqeel Ahmed of the Department of Microbiology, University of Karachi, expressed the apprehension that mortality rates due to hepatitis- C are expected to go up in future.

The Karachi University statement on Sunday said that the topic of his talk was 'HCV: Disease and Prevention'.

It was jointly organised by PCMD and Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) as a part of series of popular lectures for public awareness on common diseases of Pakistan.

Health professionals, students, research scholars, NGO representatives and general public attended the lecture.

Prof Ahmed said that hepatitis is inflammation of the liver generally due to viral infection caused by hepatitis viruses; these unrelated viruses have different epidemiologic profiles and are transmitted through different routes which are either water-borne, or spread through the blood, blood products or unethical medical or social practices.

He said that Hepatitis viruses produce inflammation in the liver, resulting in clinical illness characterised by fever, and often non-specific symptoms like pain in abdomen, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and jaundice, he said, adding more than 70 per cent of HCV infected patients become chronic, which may lead to death of patient.

Prof. Ahmed said that this has immense financial implications, so early detection and treatment of Hepatitis- C is recommended.

Genotypes 3a and 3b, amongst 11 genotypes of hepatitis, are found to be the most common genotypes in some regions of the world. He stated that patients with these genotypes also had good chances of response rate to the therapy.

There are some host-factors attributed to increased risk of HCV infection, including older age, male gender, co-infection with HIV, HBV.

Other factors such as alcohol consumption, iron overload and hepatotoxic medicines also have damaging effects.

Patients with chronic hepatitis 'C' can develop many extra hepatic symptoms like rheumatoid arteritis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, glomerulonephritis and lymphoma which are probably due to altered immune response.

Psychological disorders like depression are seen in about 20 to 30 per cent patients.

Talking about prevention of the fatal disease, he said that there are some important preventive measures that include increasing awareness of disease; blood screening before transfusion; avoiding re-use of syringes and sharing common household items such as razors and tooth brushes; training of healthcare workers; treating Hepatitis- C patients with appropriate drugs including interferon and ribavirin.