It is estimated that the prevalence of hepatitis C in Puerto Rico is 2.3% or 2.3 people per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data from the country’s gastroenterologists. While in the United States it is one person for every 100,000. A situation that led a group of health professionals to come together to celebrate the conference “Puerto Rico free of Hepatitis C: 2030″, with the purpose of joining forces to raise awareness about this disease.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. According to Mayo Clinicchronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) is usually cured with oral medications taken every day for two to six months. Even so, they indicate that about half of people do not know they are infected, mainly because they do not have symptoms, which can take decades to appear.
“We have to continue making these meetings of health professionals possible so that we can educate our people about the different health conditions that afflict them. The commitment of the Journal of Medicine and Public Health (RMSP) will remain firm in its efforts to monitor the good health education of our citizens,” said Dr. Ahmed Morales, a gastroenterologist and part of the editorial advisory team of RMSP.
According to the statement, the “Annual Statistical Report 2018-2019” of the Correctional Health Program of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation of Puerto Rico, for the period 2018-2019, 25.5% of the correctional population was seropositive for hepatitis C, a disease that It is transmitted by exposure to infected body fluids.
Of note, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults ages 18 to 79 be screened for hepatitis C, even those without symptoms or illness known liverworts. The highest risk group includes all people born between 1945 and 1965, a population five times more likely to contract the infection than those born in other years.
The conference, which took place this Thursday, July 28, is a collaborative alliance between the Journal of Medicine and Public Health, the Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Puerto Rico and VOCES, and featured a panel of prominent professionals from health. Among them, doctors Humberto Guiot, president of the Puerto Rico Infectious Diseases Society (SEIPR); Juan Carlos Lemos, infectologist specialized in transplantation attached to the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Jose Rivera, gastroenterologist and representative of the Puerto Rican Association of Gastroenterology and Dr. Barbara Rosado, gastroenterologist and hepatologist. In addition, Kiani Canales, coordinator of the hepatitis prevention project of the Department of Health; Senator Ruben Soto, president of the Senate Health Commission, the executive director of the VOCES organization, Lilliam Rodriguez and Jonathan Melendez, administrator of the NeoMed Center.
Chronic hepatitis C is usually a “silent” infection for many years, until the virus damages the liver enough to cause the signs and symptoms of liver disease. Among them:
– Appearance of hemorrhages with ease
– Prone to bruising
– Lack of appetite
– Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
– dark colored urine
– Skin itch
– Accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
– Swelling in the legs
– Confusion, drowsiness and slurred speech (hepatic encephalopathy)
– Spider-shaped blood vessels in the skin (spider veins)
Source: Mayo Clinic
According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk of hepatitis C infection increases if:
– You are a healthcare worker who has been exposed to infected blood, which can happen if you pierce your skin with an infected needle
– You have ever injected or inhaled illegal drugs
– You have HIV.
– You got a piercing or tattoo in an unhygienic environment with non-sterile equipment.
– You received a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before 1992.
– You received clotting factor concentrates before 1987.
– You received hemodialysis treatments for a long period.
– Your biological mother had a hepatitis C infection.
– You were once in prison.
– You were born between 1945 and 1965, the age group with the highest incidence of hepatitis C infection