News / Health

Elimination of Chronic Hepatitis Feasible

FILE - A nurse vaccinates a child against hepatitis to prevent disease in Constitucion, Chile.
FILE - A nurse vaccinates a child against hepatitis to prevent disease in Constitucion, Chile.
Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization reports viral Hepatitis, which kills nearly 1.5 million people a year, could be eliminated.  In marking World Hepatitis Day (July 28), WHO says intensifying testing, prevention and treatment efforts is key to tackling one of the world’s most serious diseases.

Viral hepatitis is a largely neglected disease.  This may seem strange as this dangerous alphabet of infectious diseases - Hepatitis A,B,C,D, and E - kills nearly as many people as does HIV/AIDS. Hepatitis B and C are most well known and justifiably feared because they cause chronic liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, very often leading to death.

Hepatitis B is transmitted from an infected mother to her newborn baby, contact with infected blood and unprotected sex. Injected drug users are most at risk from Hepatitis C as the disease is spread through the unsafe sharing of needles.

Samuel So, a liver transplant surgeon at Stanford University in the United States, said prevention was the best cure for liver cancer as there was no effective chemotherapy to treat this disease, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer.

Despite this, he said viral Hepatitis could be beaten - a view confirmed by health ministers who attended this year’s World Health Assembly.  He called on countries to step up their activities now to eliminate these deadly diseases.

“We have a very effective vaccine for 30 years to prevent the future burden of Hepatitis B so they do not develop chronic Hepatitis and subsequent liver cirrhosis and liver cancer…In addition, there are now very effective drugs to treat chronic Hepatitis B, which is as simple as a pill a day and, like HIV, you can prevent disease progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer,” he said.

The World Health Organization reports more than one half billion people around the world are living with chronic viral hepatitis.  About two-thirds of global deaths occur in Asia.  The virus also is common in African countries.

Most people with hepatitis do not know they are infected.   Symptoms usually appear decades  after serious liver disease already has set in.  This is why WHO urges governments to invest in effective prevention measures.

Nevertheless, Head of WHO's Global Hepatitis Program, Stefan Wiktor, said people have reason to be optimistic as great advances are being made in new treatments.

“Much of the recent excitement in the area of Hepatitis is because of the therapeutic revolution in Hepatitis C.  We have a number of new medicines that have either been approved or a lot more that are about to be approved, which is really revolutionizing how we treat Hepatitis.  It is shortening the course of treatment to as little as 12 weeks and in the future maybe even shorter.  It is no more injections. These drugs are safe and they cure almost everybody - like 90-95 percent of people are cured,” said Wiktor.

But, money is a problem.  Patients in the United States have to pay $84,000 for a 12-week course of treatment.  Dr. Wiktor agreed this price was out of reach for most people in the world, especially in developing countries.  However, he said he expected the price to come down rapidly.

He noted just last month, Egypt negotiated an agreement with the manufacturer to receive the drug at a cost of $900 per patient for the 12-week course of treatment.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lovely Randall from: Canada
August 08, 2014 10:20 PM
Hep C is treatable. And it normally takes decades to destroy a liver. However, the cost of drugs for the treatment is very high and probably ridden with side effects. There are alternatives though like herbs and supplements like the Amazon Liver Support supplement from Raintree - has liver-protective and liver-detoxifying effects that can help treat hepatitis, my colleagues use this brand for many ailments.

by: Nelly from: Ghana
August 01, 2014 6:50 AM
if you already have. which food should one eat

by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
July 28, 2014 1:38 PM
save the poor communities of the world Health Organization
In Response

by: Theany Puchika
July 30, 2014 8:31 AM
I am Puchika Theany from Italy and am very grateful for what Dr Ariba did for me. I was having HIV for the past 4 months now and it has caused a lot of damage in my life. Am really shot of words to thank him cause it was all a surprise that he cured me. All I have to say is that God should continue to bless him and I will continue to be grateful to him.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs