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Eliminating viral hepatitis among children is need of hour

New Delhi, Nov 03 (ANI): One of the global health problems is viral hepatitis problem. Researchers suggest without abolishing it in children, its elimination will be impossible. Data presented at this year's World Hepatitis Summit in Brazil (November 1-3) shows that 52 million children are living with viral hepatitis worldwide, compared to 2.1 million children living with HIV/AIDS. An estimated 325 million people were living with viral hepatitis worldwide in 2016. Of these, 4 million were children living with hepatitis C (under 19 years) and 48 million (under 18 years) were children living with hepatitis B. Both viruses can lead to liver disease, liver cancer and deaths. Mother to Child Transmission is one of the main causes of hepatitis C in children. However, neither pregnant women nor young children with this cancer-causing illness can be treated with the highly-effective direct-acting antiviral (DAA) medications. But in high-income countries, there is as yet little evidence they are being used in this age group. WHO is also yet to recommend DAA in any children regardless of age. As a result, almost all children are only treated with older pegylated interferon regimens, which often have severe side effects, including stunting growth, influenza-like symptoms, anaemia and weight loss, and do not always cure the virus.

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