UAE Hospital Raises Awareness for Silent Killer Through Free Screening
As part of its ongoing commitment to public health awareness, Al Noor Hospital has released the results from the first of a four month Hepatitis C screening campaign. Out of 180 patients screened, 12 tested positive with the preliminary test and came back for a second test to confirm the diagnosis. Final results showed that eight of the 180 patients screened tested positive for Hepatitis C.
Dr. Amal Abdel Majeed, Pathologist at Al Noor hospital explained, “The majority of those who are HCV infected are unaware of their infection. This is why we have embarked on this campaign; encouraging people to get tested and not to be afraid of coming back for the second test should the initial results come out positive.”
The simple blood tests have been available free of charge at Al Noor Hospital along with educational materials on the risk factors associated with the virus. The campaign will run till the end of summer.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a chronic blood-borne infection, transmitted primarily through blood or blood products. HCV can be fatal but can lie dormant for ten to thirty years before any symptoms appear. It is a leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. HCV can be acquired through the sharing of personal care items such as razors and nail clippers, intravenous drug use and blood transfusions received before 1992.
Dr. Ali Sayed, Hepatologist, Al Noor Hospital, adds, “Waiting for the development of symptoms before testing for HCV infection is likely to result in more advanced liver disease and a lower likelihood of successful therapy. The lack of symptoms following infection does not mean that the disease is inactive. Early detection and treatment of HCV is the most effective measure to decrease the likelihood of disease progression, and save lives.”
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 300 million people worldwide are infected with HCV of which 170 million are chronically infected; with an additional three to four million people newly infected each year. WHO also states that infection rates vary considerably from country to country. In the UAE, approximately 0.83 percent of the population is infected with HCV, whereas the rate is dramatically higher in Egypt at 12 percent.
The hepatitis C test is currently not part of routine check-ups. However, through the Al Noor Hospital screening program, patients who visit the hospital can receive the test for free. If the initial test is positive, a second more advanced test called the PCR test (Polymerase chain reaction) should be done in order to confirm the diagnosis.
“We would like to encourage more people to avail this opportunity and ask the hospital for the free test. Only then can we offer our support and guidance,” added Dr. Amal Abdel Majeed. “Patients who discover that they are HCV positive are shocked because they have no symptoms and have never complained before,” she added.
For more information on the HCV testing at Al Noor Hospital, please call 02-6265265.