28 July is the World Hepatitis Day, and Ludmila Vīksna (pictured), Professor of the Department of Infectology and Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Rīga Stradiņš University, reminds us about the dangerous hepatitis C virus that is often called the "silent killer" capable of causing liver cirrhosis and cancer. Professor praises modern diagnostics of this disease and tells about advantages of new medicaments.
"Hepatitis C belongs to the diseases that occurs when infected blood gets into the body of a healthy person," professor says.
Most frequently, infection occurs during sexual contacts, rarely – using medical and non-medical services, for instance, as a result of an injection or tattoos. Professor Vīksna also points that a person sharing syringes for intravenous drug injections with other persons can get infected not only with hepatitis B and C, but also HIV.
Professor Vīksna emphasises that hepatitis C must be cured, as it "damages not only liver cells; the pathogen may be found in other organs and tissue”.
Moreover, the hepatitis has no specific symptoms, it gradually damages organs, thus it is diagnosed most frequently when the disease has developed into its chronic form. Currently, general practitioners are very attentive, and if a patient complains of feeling bad and lack of energy, feels weakness, they advise to perform blood tests to test for hepatitis C.
Professor also emphasizes that "diagnostics enabling to establish presence of hepatitis C in a patient is of high level in Latvia. We can establish presence of the virus, its type, amount so that we can later assess whether the therapy for the patient is efficient”.
With regard to the treatment possibilities for this disease, the professor informs that 2014 has seen a revolutionary change in healing hepatitis C. "Currently, there is a whole group of new medicine for treatment of hepatitis C. Until now, medicaments removed the virus from human body in 50% of cases within a year, now there are medicaments that do it in 90% of cases during three months.”
Treatment of hepatitis C is expensive, but the professor encourages investing money and using all other options for therapy, as "a healthy person enjoys life of a better quality".