Iran’s Hepatitis C Rate Lowest in Region

Iran’s Hepatitis C Rate Lowest in Region

Iran has achieved the lowest prevalence rate of liver diseases among regional states following measures taken by the health ministry, said Dr. Seyyed Moayed Alavian, head of Iran Hepatitis Network (IHN).
Warning about the prevalence of Hepatitis C among drug addicts at a press conference, Alavian announced the “Iran Free of Hepatitis C by 2035” plan, and assured that new Hepatitis C drugs manufactured domestically, will soon enter the market. “Our scientific institutes are actively cooperating with the international scientific community,” he said, quoted by ISNA.
The prevalence of Hepatitis B is below 2% in all the provinces except Sistan and Baluchestan, and Golestan. The Hepatitis B vaccination program launched 20 years ago, saw the dramatic decline in its rate.  At present, the disease is extremely rare in the under 20 age group, and “we hope to raise the bar to 40 years in the next two decades, although disease prevention is the rule,” he said.
The IHN chief said all medication for Hepatitis B is domestically produced and covered by insurance. Further, those with the infection should not be stigmatized. “One can get married and have children despite the disease.”
Hepatitis C prevails in less than 0.5% of the average population; thus Iran has the lowest prevalence rate among regional states. Hemophiliacs, patients with thalassemia and those on dialysis, and addicts who share needles, are among high risk groups.

Out of 5000 hemophiliacs, 3000-4,000 suffer from Hepatitis C at some point in their life; more than 90% were identified and 70% treated which is a remarkable achievement.
Alavian maintained that there are 1.4 million people suffering from Hepatitis B, and approximately 200,000 – 300,000 suffer from Hepatitis C. Although health conditions improve after liver transplants, the focus is on disease prevention, and the nation will be freed from Hepatitis C by 2035.
Addressing the issue of hepatitis spread at drug rehabilitation centers, he emphasized the need to identify people engaged in risky behavior, and to educate and inform them on the inevitable dangers of sharing syringes.

 Int’l Meet
In collaboration with 50 national and four international medical organizations, IHN will present the latest topics and ‘cutting edge’ technology in the field of hepatitis to a large number of specialists, active in gastroenterology and/or hepatology, particularly those involved in basic research and in clinical care of patients with liver disease. The Tehran Hepatitis Conference is slated for May 27 at Razi International Conference Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences.
At the conference, the 5th Kowsar award will be conferred on top researchers with life long experience in the field of hepatology. The International Kowsar Award in Hepatology is an international scientific award, granted on those who have extended knowledge and understanding of the epidemiological aspects, the pathobiological mechanisms, new therapeutics and the molecular basis for the diagnosis and treatment of liver disease, particularly viral hepatitis. The award was established by Alavian, who is also a professor of gastroenterology and liver disease and the editor-in-chief of ‘Hepatitis’ monthly journal, the only specialized journal pertaining to liver disease in the Middle East and Central Asia, and with the cooperation of Baqiyatallah Research Center for Gastroenterology and Liver disease (BRCGL).

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