Imphal, Feb. 10: Hepatitis-C is silently killing people in three states of the Northeast — Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram where the prevalence rate of HIV and hepatitis-C co-infection is very high, experts in Manipur warned today.
They urged the Centre to provide a separate budget for tackling hepatitis-C and also inclusion of drugs used for treatment on the list of the National Essential Medicines.
“Manipur is worst hit by hepatitis-C. Nagaland comes next and Mizoram is the third in the Northeast because of high rate of intravenous drug users. The virus is killing people silently,” retired nodal officer of antiretroviral therapy centre, Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal, K. Priyokumar, told a daylong “consultation” on hepatitis-C here today.
The programme was organised by Community Network for Empowerment, an organisation of people living with HIV.
Priyokumar said hepatitis-C rate was very low in other states of the region like Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
He said hepatitis-C has claimed more lives than HIV did because the cost of medicines is very high and there is no government policy to help the patients as in the case of the HIV and AIDS. He said a patient needs Rs 6 to Rs 8 lakh for medicines. He, however, said there was no official data as no survey was conducted to know the exact status of hepatitis-C in Manipur.
According to a survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research 98 per cent of HIV positive people in Manipur’s Churachandpur district were co-infected with hepatitis-C.
According to the Manipur AIDS Control Society, 42,116 people tested HIV-positive in the state.
“Majority of those having hepatitis-C virus are going to die as they could not afford to buy the medicines,” Priyokumar warned.
Giving his testimony, L. Deepak Singh, a cured patient said without help from his wealthy friends in Manipur and outside he would not have survived. He spent nearly Rs 7 lakh on treatment. Deepak is a HIV-hepatitis-C co-infected survivor.