Friday December 14, 2018

People infected with the hepatitis C may also suffer from heart trouble

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New York: People infected with the hepatitis C virus are already known to be at risk for liver damage, and results of a new study now shows that the infection may also spell heart trouble.

Hepatitis C Blood Virus [HCV]. Photo Credit: michelsonmedical.org
Hepatitis C Blood Virus [HCV]. Photo Credit: michelsonmedical.org
“People infected with hepatitis C are already followed regularly for signs of liver disease, but our findings suggest clinicians who care for them should also assess their overall cardiac risk profile regularly,” said study author Wendy Post, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

Although HIV and hepatitis C infections often occur together and people infected with HIV are already known to have an elevated risk for heart disease, the new study offers strong evidence that hepatitis C can spark cardiovascular damage independent of HIV.

“We have strong reason to believe that infection with hepatitis C fuels cardiovascular disease, independent of HIV and sets the stage for subsequent cardiovascular trouble,” study principal investigator Eric Seaberg, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, noted.

“We believe our findings are relevant to anyone infected with hepatitis C regardless of HIV status,” Seaberg pointed out.

The study involved 994 men 40 to 70-years old without overt heart disease.

Of the 994,613 were infected with HIV, 70 were infected with both viruses and 17 were only infected with hepatitis C.

Those infected with hepatitis C, regardless of HIV status, had, on average, 30 percent more disease-fueling calcified plaque in their arteries, the main driver of heart attack and stroke risk.

People infected with either HIV or hepatitis C, on average, had 42 percent more non-calcified fatty buildup, a type of plaque believed to confer the greatest cardiac risk.

The study appeared in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

(IANS)

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HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly In Pakistan: WHO

U.N. officials say the Pakistan government urgently needs to redouble efforts to "de-stigmatize HIV testing.

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HIV, AIDS Pakistan
The World Health Organization warns Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually, the highest rate of increase among all countries in the region. VOA

Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually, the highest rate of increase among all countries in the region, warns the World Health Organization (WHO).

The international body says mortality among Pakistanis living with the virus, which causes the deadly AIDS disease, is also rising, in spite of the availability of lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.

The latest government figures show that only 16 percent of the estimated 150,000 people living with HIV had been tested and only 9 percent have access to lifesaving treatment.

“The remaining 135,000 people are walking around in the communities as carriers of (HIV) infection who are ready to transmit infections to those who are not infected, even to their unborn babies,” Dr. Saima Paracha of the National AIDS Control Program, told VOA.

HIV. Pakistan
Participants hold placards in the shape of the red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, as a hot air balloon is released during an awareness campaign ahead of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India. VOA

Officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among the key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients and men who have sex with men.

“The drivers of infection are now the sexual networks and they are ready to spill the infection into the general public,” Dr. Paracha cautioned.

Paracha says the Pakistani government offers free HIV testing and treatment, but she notes the marginalized key populations continue face widespread stigma and discrimination in the society.

The fear of maltreatment, and punitive actions by law enforcers impacts the willingness of these populations to pursue testing, which remains a major challenge facing national efforts to treat and prevent the spread of HIV, she lamented.

Official estimates show that Pakistan has seen a 45 percent increase in new HIV infections since 2010.

HIV AIDS, Pakistan
A patient is seen in a ward at the state-run Lavra clinic, Ukraine’s main HIV treatment center, in Kyiv. VOA

“The number of new HIV infections will continue to increase dramatically if implementation rates of intervention remain at current levels,” said Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, country head of WHO.

An official statement issued in connection with World AIDS Day quoted him as saying that Pakistan has the lowest rate of all regional countries in diagnosing people who are infected and linking them to care and treatment.

Naila Bashir, who heads the HIV treatment center at Islamabad’s Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), told VOA the facility receives up to 40 new HIV patients every month, underscoring the alarming increase in the number of infections.

The center was established in 2005 and the number of patients has since increased from 22 to more than 3,000, including men, women and children of all ages, said Dr. Bashir.

HIV, Pakistan, AIDS
Nearly a million people still die every year from AIDS. VOA

HIV has never been a priority program in the national health system and the recent abolition of the federal health ministry and the devolution of its functions to the provinces, which lacked preparedness and capacity, have led to the increase in infections, say WHO experts in the country. However, they acknowledge the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan is giving priority to tackling health emergencies in Pakistan, including HIV.

Federal Minister for National Health Services Regulation and Coordination, Aamir Mehmood Kiyani, says the government is working on a strategy to remove barriers and challenges in protecting people from HIV infections.

Also Read: Eastern Europe Sees A Rise In Number of HIV Cases

Kiyani told a seminar in Islamabad that since taking office three months ago, the government has moved to established 12 new HIV treatment centers while overall 33 such facilities have been working throughout Pakistan.

U.N. officials say the Pakistan government urgently needs to redouble efforts to “de-stigmatize HIV testing, advocate for confidential, non-discriminatory, community based care models and raise awareness about disease transmission, prevention treatment” to achieve reductions in new infections in affected populations. (VOA)