HCV equals HIV in Punjab, say health experts while interacting with Spring Daleans; Hold drug menace accountable

July 27, 2017 12:18 PM

Punjab News Express/Shaheen P Parshad
AMRITSAR :  Synonymous with strange occurrences in its social and political life, Punjab is now witnessing a bizarre and unsavory equation which, according to the health experts, who addressed young Spring Daleans on the occasion of World Hepatitis Week celebration, places the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) at par with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and is a matter of grave concern.

Both viruses ride on the wings of the prevalent drug menace, particularly the intravenous drug use involving the use of unsterilized needles, and lack of awareness among the urban and rural folks regarding its prevention and cure.

While the incidence of HIV positivity is reported to be the highest in the country among the intravenous drug users (IDU) of Punjab, HCV, according to Dr Gurbilas P Singh and Dr Amitabh Jerath, both Consultant Gastroenterologists associated with GI Rendezvous, an organization of doctors, too follows the same path as HIV.

HCV is a silent killer as it does not show any symptoms. Hence, it requires proper screening and immunization. In India, the rate of its prevalence is 2.9%, while in Punjab its average is reported to be around 2.7%,” said Dr Gurbilas P Singh. Stating that at least 15 crore people in the world were affected by the HCV virus, he said that Punjab has the highest incidence of its outbreak due the use of infected syringes by drug addicts.

“It is transmitted through blood from one person to another. Besides infected syringes, using common razors for shaving and each other’s toothbrush for brushing teeth, too contributes to its spread,” he said.

Stating that the HCV virus could be transmitted from an infected mother to her unborn child, Dr Amitabh Jerath said that HCV does not spread through contaminated water as is generally believed or even by socializing. Stating that Hepatitis C was curable, he laid stress on its prevention through proper medical screening.

Dr Jerath maintained that in most cases HIV and HCV occur concurrently. “Such cases need to be handled by specialists,” he said. A documentary ‘The Silent Killer’ was also screened on this occasion to apprise the students of the dangers of HCV and the need to be aware and immunized against it.

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