Hepatitis Free Malaysia (HFM) has launched the How’s Your Blood? Campaign, a nationwide Hepatitis C awareness campaign to educate the public, especially high-risk groups, about Hepatitis C and the importance of blood test for early detection and timely treatment.
Hepatitis C is a type of liver inflammation that is caused by the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer, if left untreated. In Malaysia, there are at least 380,000 people living with HCV and the vast majority are unaware that they are infected. Globally, there’s an estimation of 70 million people who have chronic Hepatitis C and over 80% of liver cancer deaths are caused by Hepatitis B or C. The number of deaths caused by viral hepatitis have surpassed chronic infectious diseases such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB).
The success of Hepatitis B vaccination showed significant reductions in Hepatitis B virus infection and death rates. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for HCV which makes early detection the key to preventing the spread of HCV and for those who are infected to receive timely treatment.
The How’s Your Blood? Campaign’s key goal is to encourage the public, especially high-risk groups, to get tested for Hepatitis C and help Hepatitis C patients to receive timely treatment. Along with the campaign partners, HFM has teamed up with doctors, including general practitioners (GPs), clinics and blood test centres around the country to encourage high-risk groups to get tested.
How can Hepatitis C be detected?
80% of people who are infected with HCV do NOT develop any symptoms. Even if symptoms develop, these symptoms are non-specific such as:
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
The only way to know for sure whether you have Hepatitis C is to get your blood tested.
What are the blood tests to diagnose Hepatitis C?
- Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) antibodies. If your blood shows the presence of HCV antibodies, it means you might have been exposed to HCV and will need a 2nd blood test to confirm if the virus is still present in your bloodstream.
- A second blood test is required to confirm the presence of HCV in your bloodstream by testing:
a) HCV RNA Nucleic Acid Test (NAT): This test detects HCV RNA in serum or plasma and determines if the infection is active.
b) HCV Core Antigen (HCVcAg) Test: This test detects the protein produced by HCV. It can detect HCV infections about 40-50 days earlier, compared to other test
What should you do next?
Find the nearest blood test centre, medical centre or clinic to have your blood tested.