Forty people from the city tested positive and have started treatment

A total of 448 people have been tested for Hepatitis B and C so far, at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital as part of its follow-up of a free screening camp conducted on July 28 to mark World Hepatitis Day. The hospital is expecting another 100 people from Vellore district to arrive for testing, apart from twenty patients who tested positive at the camp who will come in for treatment.

The second round of tests, which began on August 2, focuses not only on patients who tested positive in the initial round of screening, but also on their families and neighbouring residents. Following the initial round of testing at the screening camp, those who tested positive were asked to go in for an ultrasound as well as other tests for the quantification of Hepatitis B.

Forty people from the city tested positive at the initial test conducted at the free screening camp. When subjected to the next level of tests to confirm the diagnosis, all 40 of them tested positive. Five family members of the patients also tested positive for Hepatitis B. Treatment has been started for all of them.

Treatment for Hepatitis B involves oral medication to be taken once in two weeks for two to three years, depending on the severity of the infection. Since the medication is strong, there is a possibility of side effects and therefore, the patients are admitted and monitored after administration of the first dose. K. Narayanswamy, head of the hepatology department at GH, said, “At the start of the treatment, the patient is admitted for a couple of days to monitor their reaction to the drugs. Thereafter, they can come in once in two weeks to receive the medication for the remaining period of their treatment. This way we can monitor their progress as well.”

For Hepatitis C, three patients from Chennai and one from Vellore have tested positive at the initial level of tests. “They still need the genotype test to start receiving treatment for the disease. However, the test is an expensive one and the patients, who belong to low-income groups, cannot afford it, and will thus need to apply for the Chief Minister Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. We have asked them to come back with their ration cards and a proof of income to apply for the scheme and avail of this benefit and begin treatment at the earliest,” added Dr. Narayanswamy.

All patients who tested negative have been given vaccinations. The tests to confirm the diagnosis of Hepatitis will be conducted twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

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Arita SarkarJune 28, 2012

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