As reported in The National, the UAE aims to significantly reduce the prevalence of Hepatitis C by targeting specific high-risk groups and communities [1]. The virus, which chronically affects around 71 million people globally [2], can eventually lead to cirrhosis of the liver and is a major cause of liver cancer.

The strategy intends to break down the total population into sub-groups to create ‘smaller achievable goals’ as a way to reach national elimination more rapidly. By focusing primarily on those at highest risk of Hepatitis C, methods can then be repeated within other cities and groups to tackle the issue step by step [1].

Samir Alawadi, President of Emirates Gastroenterology and Hepatology Society, believes that collaboration between primary care providers, governments, policymakers, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare specialists is essential to diminish cases of Hepatitis C [1].

Most people with Hepatitis C do not show any symptoms, at least in the early stages. It is thought that up to 70% of those infected with the virus do not know that they have it. This emphasises the importance of regular testing, especially after a risky situation.

Which groups are considered high-risk?

Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. Those at highest risk include:

  • Those who have undergone a blood transfusion,
  • Those who inject drugs,
  • Those who have HIV,
  • Those who engage in sexual practices which may lead to exposure to blood.

Global targets

In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) set out targets to achieve by 2030 in relation to Hepatitis C [3]:

  • Reduce new infections by 80%,
  • Reduce mortality rate by 65%.

It is estimated that in 2016, there were almost 400,000 fatalities due to Hepatitis C.

The higher the number of people who are tested and treated, the higher the number of lives that can be saved.

Contact us today

If you think that you may have been at risk, you should get tested. You can test for Hepatitis C on its own or in combination with other STIs. The choice is entirely yours. Speak to our highly trained Sexual Health Advisors by phone or live web chat in confidence.

Sources

[1] The National: UAE on track to eradicate hepatitis C ‘within next decade’

[2] WHO: Hepatitis C

[3] Infohep: WHO hepatitis C elimination targets are achievable, model shows

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