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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More