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February 4, 2023

National screening test to diagnose hepatitis C

The Ministry of Health has announced the launch of a national screening test destined to diagnose hepatitis C, given the constant increase in the number of people infected with this virus. Testings have been performed in tents located in the centres of big cities. The ample action initiated by the Ministry of Health, recommending the population to attend testing for hepatitis C, a disease that affects more and more Romanians, started on Monday, when a tent was placed in the University Square, where the willing dwellers of the Capital were tested for potential infection with hepatitis C. The action will continue for the forthcoming period, as other tents will be placed in other locations in Bucharest, but also in big cities such as Iasi and Timisoara. Although 200 tests were prepared, the experts in Bucharest, six nurses and a doctor, merely managed to perform a little over half of them, despite of the fact that the people who accepted to be tested were handed over the results after 15 minutes. Of the 110 persons tested, only one was diagnosed positive, Sorin Petrea, medical manager of the “Matei Bals” Infectious Diseases Institute declared. “Most of the people who accepted to be tested were older. Few young people accepted our invitation, and those who came to our tent to be tested seemed unemployed. Anyway, I would not say that the population is uninformed. Most of them were aware of the ways hepatitis C is transmitted”, doctor Sorin Petrea explained for Adevarul.
Results issued in 15 minutes
Actually, people who showed their interest were requested to fill out a survey and among the attendants to the testing, there were only the highly vulnerable categories, which included persons who benefited of blood transfusions before 1990, who underwent major surgeries, who had tattoos or piercings or who had enjoyed unprotected sex, as well as people who had had jaundice. The results were handed out right away, after blood samples were collected from the patients’ fingers. “In case somebody is identified as positive, they are sent to the infectious disease doctor or to the gastroenterologist with the paper we issued. Afterwards, if the virus is active, the patient is included in the national program and is closely monitored. What we did bears the name “screening”. It does not mean that 20 million Romanians will be tested for hepatitis C. The testing in Bucharest was supported by funds from Norway”, professor Adrian Streinu-Cercel, manager of the “Matei Bals” Infectious Disease Institute in Bucharest declared.
300,000 Romanians are infected
Based on the national screening program, that totalizes costs of EUR 1.3 million, nine family doctors of each county, working in rural or urban areas, will  be granted the possibility to identify patients under highly risk and to suggest them testing until the end of the year 2015. Alarmed by the fact that almost 300,000 are suffering of Hepatitis C, Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu mentioned that testing could be introduced in the basic health aid package starting next year.
Testing, in the basic package
It is a proposal I embrace and we are to start discussions with the National Insurance House. I announced it, because it is essential that this thing would happen starting in 2015. I think that this testing stage is an important step and, actually, it becomes a pilot-program by the Ministry of Health”, Health Minister Nicolae Banicioiu declared. At the time being, 35,000 patients were entered in the National Registry of Infectious Diseases. Among them, 1,932 were identified as positive, which resulted in a positivity rate of 5.48 per cent, according to professor  Adrian Streinu-Cercel, head of the „Matei Bals” Institute, who also added that most persons affected by this disease are aged 40 to 69. Hepatitis C, nicknamed “the silent murderer of the 21st century” is an infection disease which, if not diagnosed in due time, may lead to liver cancer.
Hepatita C ravages prison convicts
Authorities have not initiated volunteer testing in penitentiaries, although the level of hepatitis C infections in prison convicts has reached alarming figures during the last two days. The greatest threat is represented by drug-addict prisoners, who inject their drugs using the same syringe. Actually, 90 per cent of drug addicts in penitentiaries are suffering of C hepatitis while, during no more than two years, HIV infection increased 12 times in this category. According to estimations, in Bucharest alone there are 1,000 drug addicts infected with Hepatitis B, C or HIV, undiagnosed so far. “In the case convicts, volunteer testing should be coordinated by the Ministry of Justice, through its own devices”, professor Adrian Streinu-Cercel explained, as quoted by Adevarul.

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