Last Updated: 2018-07-12
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JOHANNESBURG, July 12 (NNN-SABC) -- The World Health Organisation (WHO) says viral hepatitis is increasingly becoming the leading cause of death in the world and the Strategic Adviser of the South African Tuberculosis/HIV Care Association, Dr Andrew Scheibe, says hepatitis is a silent killer because often people with hepatitis do not know they are infected until it is too late.

Scheibe says the association will hold events ahead of World Hepatitis Day later this month in order to assess South Africa’s response to the disease.

“Because things are not on the agenda or spoken about often, there isn’t a lot of emphasis on doing research and getting an understanding of the numbers," he said here Wednesday.

"So what our study was trying to do was to try and get a sense of what’s the picture in the South African context, for people who we know could be at risk for hepatitis.

“So we look at specifically hepatitis B and C to get a sense of whether there is a problem and if there is to inform the services which the government and stakeholders should provide to move towards the illumination of hepatitis.”

Dr Scheibe has called on people born before 1994 to test for hepatitis as vaccines were not available then, adding that the same problems are being experienced with hepatitis C as the medication for it has yet to be registered in South Africa.

“In terms of hepatitis C, it’s a bit more challenging because many of the people who’re at risk or living with hepatitis C are marginalised from society," he added.

"Many of them may be living on the streets and it is particularly people who use drugs and those that inject drugs who are often not offered hepatitis C treatment. And the medications which are available for Hepatitis C are still waiting to be registered by the South African regulatory authorities and once that becomes registered it will be available in certain sectors but cost is still a major factor.” -- NNN-SABC