TODAY -

Hepatitis screening camp held
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 30 2012: With active support of BD India Pvt Ltd, BMS India Ltd and Zydus Cadila Heptiza Vision, a 10-day free screening camp for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C was opened today at the Paediatric Centre of Excellence, JNIMS exclusively for children living with HIV.

Talking with TSE about the free screening test, PCE programme director Apabi Hijam said children living with HIV often end with liver cancer of liver cirrhosis if they are co-infected with either Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C .

It is essential to ascertain whether any child is co-infected with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis at the early stage before necessary treatment.

As per the epidemiological profile published by MACS, till October 2012 there are around 2773 children living with HIV in Manipur.

But there is no concrete data regarding how many of these children are co-infected with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C as the screening for these infections are dismally low.

At the international level, the most common mode of HIV transmission is through sexual route, the most common route in Manipur is sharing of syringes or/and needles among injecting drug users.

Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can be transmitted through sharing of syringes and needles if one of them is infected with either Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C .

According to a sentinel surveillance report of 1998 published by MACS, HIV transmission among IDUs account for 72,78 per cent.

It got reduced to 17.9 per cent in the sentinel surveillance report of 2007 .

It again climbed to 28.65 per cent as recorded in the latest surveillance report of 2008.Whereas the total number of HIV+ children registered at JNIMS PCE is 1058, the number of HIV+ children who have started ART is only 408 .

Dr Apabi Hijam advised that children tested positive for HIV infection should be given ART as early as possible.

But it is mandatory to check whether the HIV+ children are co-infected with Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C before giving ART.

LFT should also be conducted.

However, there is no provision under NACO and MACS for compulsory screening of HIV+ children for Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C .

As it costs Rs 300 to Rs 700 in screening a patient for Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C infection, most of the patients could not afford the sum and they usually started taking ARV drugs without screening for Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C co-infection.

If a pregnant woman is confirmed to have been infected by Hepatitis C, she should make sure that her baby is administered immunoglobulin vaccine within 12 to 24 hours of delivery.

This considerably reduces chances of transmission of Hepatitis C from mother to child, said Dr Apabi.

As for Hepatitis B, there is a vaccine for immunization.

As such, the best way is to test for Hepatitis C at the early stage for starting necessary treatment as soon as possible.

Generally, 30 per cent of babies born to HIV+ positive parents die in the first year itself, and 50 per cent die before their second birthday.

Such children should have their blood tested after six weeks.

If they are found HIV+, they should be given ARV drugs irrespective of their CD4 counts.

Dr Apabi also appealed to all concerned parents to bring their children for Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C test during the 10-day screening camp.

HIV+ parents would also given the facility of free Hepatitis B/Hepatitis C test.

This would enable researchers collect and collate data about the rate of transmission of Hepatitis C from parents to children, Apabi added.


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