First identified in 1989, the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) now affects a staggering 58 million globally, according to the World Health Organization. Previously known as either non-A or non-B hepatitis, this silent killer has created a negative impact worldwide – all while being ninja-silent
The question remains, just how did this virus become the menace it is today?
There is an ongoing debate on whether HCV started a mere 400 years ago or as far back as 2000 years before! .
Regardless, one thing is for sure – this virus which once only affected old-world primates/non-primates, quietly advanced its spread among humans destroying lives in its wake.
The global spread of HCV began back in the day when traders moved back and forth between countries, freely mingling with one another, and unknowingly catching the virus and bringing it back to their loved ones. This was the start of an unbreakable chain reaction.
The spread of HCV in Southeast Asia can be split into two distinct phases; pre-and post-1900. The HCV strains, which were initially contained within a few countries, existing mainly as ‘local epidemics’, started to spread towards their neighbouring countries in the mid-1800s when trading between nations intensified .
Some information suggests that the colonisation of SEA countries in the early to mid-1900s may have also contributed to the rise in cases when authorities invested less in public health campaigns . It was then that the HCV started to spread exponentially via multiple transmission routes, including blood transfusion, blood products, injection drug use, and unsafe medical injections.
There was no turning back after that, and HCV became a pandemic, affecting millions of lives worldwide.
It wasn’t until the 1990s that the spread started to slow down with the introduction of treatments, proper education on HCV, and the implementation of a stronger emphasis on sterilising medical equipment.
Still, the road ahead was a rocky one, and initial treatments introduced in the 1990s were riddled with side effects such as hair loss, depression, liver damage, birth defects, rectal pain, etc. .
In 2016, proper treatments with milder side effects were finally approved, and results have shown that the drugs have a success rate of up to 97%.
While the disease is no longer spreading exponentially, the threat posed by HCV is still very real. About 1.5 million new infections still occur every year. This is because the symptoms can be so mild at first that one would not even link it to HCV until it is too late.
So, join in the fight, help raise awareness and encourage your loved ones to Test, Treat and Cure with Malaysia Healthcare. Together, we can end the HCV menace once and for all. Malaysia Healthcare offers efficacious, accessible, and affordable treatment solutions, with up to a 97% cure rate.