Delhi is first city to launch Hepatitis C screening

New Delhi: Delhi on Sunday became the first city in the country to begin screening for the `silent killer` Hepatitis C.

An initiative of the Delhi Government, the screening is being conducted at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) in order to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that manifests after 15 to 20 years as Cirrhosis and liver cancer in the infected person.

As a preventive measure, hospitals in the city will soon have the latest specific measure -- nucleic acid testing (NAT)-- of all blood in order to reduce the residual risk of transmission of Hepatitis C, state health minister A K Walia said Sunday.

He was speaking at a function to mark the 14th World Hepatitis Day organised at ILBS Sunday.

"Since there is no vaccine against this life threatening disease, prevention is the only way left with us. Along with screening and NAT testing we have also decided to provide help of Rs 2.5 lakh to people whose income is below Rs one lakh and who will undergo surgery for liver transplant," he said.

Dr S K Sarin, Director, ILBS said, "This virus takes 20 years to manifest. Testing blooad for the presence of Hepatitis C began in the year 1997. That is why we are also advising people who have undergone unsafe blood transfusion of any kind before the year 1997 to get themselves screened for Hepatitis C virus.

"A majority of those diagnosed with Hepatitis C are those who have undergone surgery or blood transfusion in the past or taken repeated injections. Health care workers, unsafe blood transfusion and babies born to Hepatitis C infected mothers and people who have undergone surgery in the past are at high risk of hepatitis C infection," he said.


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