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‘National hepatitis C screenings needed,’ doctors say in survey
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2017.10.18 16:08
  • Updated 2017.10.18 16:08
  • comments 0

A recent survey showed 99 percent of liver disease specialists called for a national screening for hepatitis C to diagnose and treat the condition, the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver said.

Byun Kwan-soo, president of the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver, presents survey findings on hepatitis C on Liver Day Wednesday, at Westin Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul.

The association released these and other findings of the survey the 18th Liver Day on Wednesday, which it conducted to educate and inform physicians of liver disease.

The survey found 99 percent of 119 respondents said the government should include hepatitis C screenings in the national health check-up.

Regarding activating diagnosis and treatment, 76 percent placed a priority on implementing hepatitis C screenings in the check-up. Expanding coverage for the latest hepatitis C treatments came in second at 43 percent, followed by raising awareness of the disease to the public (34 percent), strengthening infection maintenance for diagnosis and prevention (24 percent) and establishing a national management system (24 percent).

Regarding the pilot project that provides public hepatitis C screenings to 35 regions populated by hepatitis C patients, 89 percent of respondents said it was not effective because it only targeted areas with high disease prevalence. Meanwhile, 96 percent said the Korean Association for the Study of the Liver’s (KASL) campaign to raise awareness needed improvement.

Public awareness of the disease was also low, a survey conducted on 600 people from six big cities found.

The survey found 39 percent of respondents did not know how hepatitis C was transmitted while more than half did not know there was a vaccine for the disease. Many believed the virus was transmitted through food and utensils even though most infections occur through the blood, such as through blood transfusions and reuse of syringes, or contamination from the mother.

Some 44 percent did not know the disease can be cured with treatment.

The survey also indicated 80 percent were unaware the screening was not part of the national health check-up, and 82 percent said it is necessary.

“Public awareness of hepatitis B and C, which are the main causes of liver cancer, have remained relatively low even though our association has campaigned to raise awareness since its establishment in 2000,” said KASL President Byun Kwan-soo. “As confirmed in the survey, the government should introduce a national health screening which includes hepatitis C antibody test.”


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