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OMS calcula entre 3 y 4 millones de personas con Hepatitis C

La Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) calcula que anualmente la Hepatitis C afecta entre 3 y 4 millones de individuos en el planeta.

Según cifras del ente multilateral, unos 150 millones de personas con esta infección crónica están en riesgo de padecer cirrosis hepática o cáncer del hígado, y cada año más de 350.000 personas fallecen a causa de enfermedades hepáticas vinculadas con la hepatitis C.

Con motivo de conmemorarse este 19 de mayo el Día Mundial de esa afección, se insiste en la necesidad de un diagnóstico precoz para su detección, a través de un sencillo análisis de sangre. La hepatitis C es una enfermedad de larga evolución que puede durar entre uno y dos meses, con cinco variantes (A, B, C, D y E) en función del virus.

¿Qué es la hepatitis?

Se define como la inflamación del hígado generalmente causada por un virus. En el caso de la hepatitis C, es la más prevalente de todas las formas en que se presenta la patología. Destaca la OMS que actualmente existen vacunas eficaces contra todos los tipos de hepatitis, con excepción del C.

Sin embargo, uno de los inconvenientes con el virus de la hepatitis C es su detección en etapa inicial, ya que 80% de las personas no manifiestan síntomas. Además, este virus es el responsable de la mayoría de los casos de cáncer hepático en el mundo occidental y es la primera causa de trasplante de hígado en todo el orbe. No obstante, su curación es posible cuando se detecta a tiempo.

Síntomas

La sintomatología es común a los tipos A, B y C. Puede incluir fiebre, fatiga, dolor abdominal, pérdida de apetito, náuseas y vómitos. Algunas personas presentan también oscurecimiento de la orina, excremento de color claro, dolor articular e ictericia (ojos y piel amarillos).

Se puede prevenir la hepatitis C

Actualmente, no hay vacuna que proteja contra el virus de la hepatitis C. Pero existen ciertas medidas que reducen el riesgo de contacto con el virus: no compartir jeringas, agujas o instrumentos para el consumo de drogas, navajas u hojillas de afeitar, cepillo de dientes o cualquier otro elemento que pueda contener sangre infectada; esterilizar el material médico y dental; usar guantes protectores para manipular sangre o sus derivados.

Poblaciones de riesgo

Dado que el virus de la hepatitis C se transmite a través del contacto con sangre infectada, existen ciertas poblaciones que se encuentran en mayor riesgo de contagio: usuarios de drogas intravenosas, personas con condiciones asociadas a alta prevalencia de co-infección del VIH, pacientes con hemofilia que recibieron transfusiones antes de 1992 y quienes estuvieron alguna vez en hemodiálisis.

Opciones de terapia de tratamiento actual

De acuerdo a la OMS, el tratamiento estándar para el virus de la hepatitis C es el son el interferón y la ribavirina. Si bien esta enfermedad en general se considera como curable, no lo es para una gran cantidad de personas. Afortunadamente, en la actualidad los avances científicos y los adelantos en investigación han permitido obtener nuevos antivirales orales contra la infección por el virus de la hepatitis C.

Rosa González

Fuente: Ministerio del P.P. para la Salud

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