The Ministry of Health launched, this Wednesday (27), the campaign to fight viral hepatitis. At the event, Minister Marcelo Queiroga and the Secretary of Health Surveillance, Arnaldo Medeiros, warned about the importance of the population seeking diagnosis and highlighted actions of the portfolio to combat hepatitis A, B and C and reduce its incidence in Brazil.
“The issue of hepatitis is a public health problem. In the past, hepatitis was the leading cause of liver transplants. Today, due to public policies, it has become chronic steatohepatitis, since we have effective ways of diagnosing early, treating with antivirals, [aplicar] vaccines, to use the power of public policies to reduce this important problem”, said Queiroga.
The Unified Health System (SUS) offers comprehensive care to all patients with viral hepatitis, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. The best form of prevention against hepatitis A and B is the vaccines made available free of charge according to the vaccination schedule. Hepatitis B, C and D are treated by the SUS. The drugs made available by the public health network guarantee the cure for up to 95% of hepatitis C patients, for which there is no vaccine available.
Among the actions of the SUS to combat viral hepatitis, is the exemption of the genotyping test for the treatment of hepatitis C. For the treatment of hepatitis B, a therapeutic alternative was added, with the supply of tenofovir alafenamide tablets.
In addition, the government promoted joint actions with civil society. Ten organizations from the five regions of Brazil were selected for coping actions. In this context, more than 12 thousand people were tested and thousands of activities were carried out in the communities.
The North and Northeast regions together represent 55.4% of all cases of hepatitis A reported between 2000 and 2021. There was, however, a 95.6% reduction in the incidence rate of hepatitis A in Brazil. In 2021, there were 0.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
According to the ministry, transmission rates of hepatitis B have also fallen across the country. In just over half of the cases, transmission occurred during sexual intercourse. In the case of hepatitis C, almost 40% of transmissions occur through sexual intercourse; drug use represents just over 20% of transmissions. Hepatitis D has the fewest cases. The North Region concentrates most of them.
Viral hepatitis are infections that affect the liver, causing mild, moderate or severe changes. Most of the time, they are silent infections, that is, they do not have symptoms. However, when present, they can manifest as: tiredness, fever, malaise, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellow skin and eyes, dark urine and pale stools.
Hepatitis is transmitted sexually and by transmission from mother to child, in the case of type B; and by sharing piercing/cutting material, which has been contaminated with the blood of the individual with the virus, for C.
40 years ago, precautionary measures were not known, including not sharing scissors and pliers in salons without adequate hygiene; and do not use non-disposable syringes and needles.