Neglect, ignorance raise HCV infection in Vietnam

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The number of Hepatitis C patients in Vietnam is increasing, and around half a million people are estimated to develop cirrhosis and liver cancer this year, experts said at a recent seminar.


Figures at the seminar in Ho Chi Minh City showed that nearly 4.5 million people have the blood-to-blood infectious disease in Vietnam, or 5 percent of the country's population, compared to 2 percent in 2004, news website VnEpress said Wednesday.


The figures also indicated a four-fold increase in the number of cirrhosis patients due to HCV in Vietnam in the past decade.


There's no vaccine to protect against contracting the Hepatitis C virus.


But Pham Hoang Phiet, chairman of the city Liver and Gall Association, said the disease has gotten worse also because people are ignorant about the harms, and thus they do not take blood tests to determine if they can receive early treatment.


Some patients even failed to follow the entire treatment, Phiet said.


Dr. Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, director of HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, said that most Hepatitis patients went to the hospital late, and they had few ideas about how to prevent the disease.


The hospital received around 2,400 arrivals for chronic Hepatitis C exams and treatment every month, and 90 were hospitalized with severe cirrhosis.


Chau said most patients only knew that they had liver diseases when their condition became critical. Many spent all their money but were unable to save their lives, he said.


A seminar on Hepatitis C diagnosis, treatment and prevention will be held at the hospital on Saturday.


Statistics estimated around 200 million people are infected with Hepatitis worldwide, or 3 percent of the population. There are around 3 million to 4 million new patients every year.


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