Drug users vulnerable to hepatitis C: Survery

KATHMANDU: A survey on prevalence of Hepatitis C (HCV) among the drug users who go through the Oral Substitution Therapy (OST) showed that the use of drug through injection is the leading risk behaviour to cause the transmission of HCV. The survey was conducted by Hepa Foundation, Nepal.

The population of the survey was 118 OST clients and 82 non-OST Injecting Drug Users (IDUs). Based on the responses of the clients, it was found that 80.5 per cent of the total OST entrants and 57 per cent of the IDUs had suffered from the HCV. The report further mentioned that 67.2 per cent of Injecting Drug Users were arrested and 23.6 per cent were put in jail for using illicit drugs.

Fifty per cent of the respondents in the survey were unmarried and 50.9 per cent had

attended different treatment programmes before joining the OST programme.

The study recommended terming Hepatitis C as a ‘public health issue’ in HIV/AIDS policies and programmes and to develop and strengthen its link with drug and HIV policies, programmes and practices.

It also advocated for the

maximisation of the health services for the well being of

the people living with the HVC. For that the study recommended equitable access to testing, treatment, information and supported services.

The study also recommended creating a favourable environment for HVC education

and prevention campaign. It further stressed to initiate treatment and support for people living with the HCV along with the establishment of the surveillance system.

Dr Laxmi Raj Pathak,

director of National Centre for the AIDS and STI Control said that Hepatitis C is one of the most important public health issues. Pathak, making the findings of the survey public, said that despite a national programme for Hepatitis B and C, there is no national policy to battle these diseases.

Government was working for the formulation of a new strategy, he informed.