Sukar Mengesan Hepatitis C

BERLAINAN dengan kebanyakan penyakit lain, Hepatitis C merupakan jangkitan yang sukar dikesan oleh pesakit sendiri kerana ia selalu menyerang tanpa membawa simptom, membawa simptom yang tidak menonjol atau tidak berpanjangan.

Hepatitis C sering menerima gelaran sebagai pembunuh senyap kerana ramai pesakit tidak mengetahui diri mereka dijangkiti sehingga bertahun-bertahun malahan berpuluh tahun lamanya.

Apa yang menyedihkan, kebanyakan kes Hepatitis C hanya diketahui selepas umur 40 tahun walaupun ramai pesakit tersebut dipercayai telah menghidap virus berkenaan tersebut jauh lebih awal.

Tidak kurang yang hanya menyedari tubuh mereka menjadi habitat virus selepas tahap kesihatan bertambah teruk akibat kegagalan hati atau pertumbuhan kanser hati.

Walaupun ujian darah mampu mengesan kehadiran virus Hepatitis C dengan mudah, namun kebanyakan orang terutamanya daripada kumpulan berisiko tinggi enggan berbuat demikian sekan-akan tidak mahu berdepan dengan perbuatan lampau mereka.

Pengarah Global Hal Ehwal Saintifik Penyakit Berjangkit dari syarikat farmaseutikal Merck & Co. Inc. (Merck), Lisa Pedicone berkata, Cara jangkitan Hepatitis C lebih kurang sama seperti cara jangkitan virus HIV di mana antara penyebab utama jangkitan ialah perkongsian jarum dadah.

”Transmisi darah juga pernah menjadi cara jangkitan yang utama tetapi sejak 1990-an, kebanyakan negara telah melakukan kawalan ketat untuk mengelakkan jangkitan Hepatitis C melalui pemindahan darah,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, kajian mendapati terdapat kemungkinan besar Hepatitis C juga boleh dijangkit daripada ibu kepada anak dalam kandungan.

Terdapat kes di mana kanak-kanak seawal tiga hingga lima tahun dijangkiti Hepatitis C, satu-satunya penjelasan yang boleh diterima ialah virus dijangkiti ketika mereka dalam kandungan.

Walaupun pesakit Hepatitis C berpeluang sembuh, namun kajian dunia menunjukkan hanya 40 peratus pesakit sembuh selepas setahun menerima rawatan.

Menariknya, faktor genetik dan keturunan turut mempengaruhi peluang penyembuhan pesakit Hepatitis C dan kajian menunjukkan pesakit Asia mempunyai peluang yang lebih besar untuk sembuh.

Pedicone berkata, berbanding pesakit Caucasian yang mencatatkan peluang penyembuhan 40 peratus dan Afrika sebanyak 20 peratus, Asia mencatatkan peluang lebih tinggi berbanding dua keturunan itu.

”Keadaan ini disebabkan oleh faktor genetik di mana mereka yang memiliki genetik positif mempunyai peluang penyembuhan lebih 70 peratus.

”Dalam kes Hepatitis C, gen positif lebih prevalen di kalangan penduduk Asia berbanding Caucasian dan Afrika,” katanya.

Tambahnya, selain faktor genetik, soal usia dan metabolisme turut mempengaruhi peluang penyembuhan seseorang pesakit.

”Pesakit muda lebih berpeluang untuk disembuhkan, mereka yang mempunyai Indeks Jisim Badan (BMI) rendah juga menunjukkan hasil rawatan lebih baik berbanding pesakit dengan BMI tinggi.

”Kejayaan rawatan juga bergantung kepada bilakah anda menerima rawatan iaitu sejauh mana kerosakan hati anda. Peluang pesakit untuk sembuh lebih tinggi jika mendapat rawatan awal,” katanya.

Rawatan Hepatitis C bagaimanapun bukan semudah yang disangkakan apatah lagi tiada jaminan bahawa pesakit boleh sembuh sepenuhnya, keadaan ini sering menyebabkan pesakit takut untuk menghadapi perjalanan rawatan yang sukar.

”Terdapat dua kaedah rawatan di mana yang pertama melalui suntikan sekali seminggu, iaitu stimulasi imun badan pesakit untuk menentang virus.

”Ia merupakan satu rawatan yang tidak spesifik.

“Pesakit akan menerima kesan sampingan seperti sakit badan dan demam. Rawatan memakan masa kira-kira 48 minggu, ramai pesakit tidak tahan dan takut untuk menerima rawatan,” katanya.

Tambahnya, kaedah kedua menggunakan ubat pula didapati mampu menghentikan pembiakan virus Hepatitis C walaupun saintis masih gagal menguasai secara 100 peratus bagaimana ia berfungsi.

”Masalah ubat ini ialah ia bersifat toksik kepada sel darah merah, menyebabkan hemoglobin menurun dan membawa kepada amenia,” kata Pedicone.

Walaupun rawatan itu menimbulkan kesan yang tidak diingini tetapi ia tetap perlu dijalankan kerana virus Hepatitis C tidak akan hilang dengan sendirinya, rawatan segera menjanjikan peluang penyembuhan yang lebih baik.

Pedicone berkata, pesakit pada masa yang sama perlu mengikut jadual rawatan yang ditetapkan dan jangan leka walaupun ujian darah pertama menunjukkan darah mereka bebas daripada virus.

”Ujian lebih daripada sekali perlu dilakukan kerana mungkin terdapat virus yang ‘tersembunyi’ di hati tetapi tidak dikesan dalam ujian darah,” katanya.

Pesakit yang telah sembuh pula perlu menjauhi gaya hidup berisiko kerana virus Hepatitis C yang baru boleh menyerang semula pesakit yang sama.

Dalam pada itu, Pedicone bekata, syarikat-syarikat farmaseutikal telah melakukan banyak kajian mengenai Hepatitis C dan ubat baru yang menyasarkan virus itu secara spesifik telah diperkenalkan di lebih 40 negara dan dijangka diluluskan di nnegara Asia Tenggara seperti Filipina dan Malaysia pada 2012.

”Ubat yang sedia ada adalah merangsang sistem imun badan pesakit untuk melawan virus, ubat baru yang dikeluarkan pula menentang virus secara fokus. Ubat baru ini boleh digunakan seiring dengan dua kaedah rawatan sedia ada.

”Kemunculan ubat ini menawarkan peluang baru kepada pesakit Hepatitis C yang gagal disembuhkan sebelum ini,” katanya.

Walaupun kemajuan farmaseutikal dapat menawarkan lebih peluang kepada pesakit yang menderita virus Hepatitis C, namun usaha itu perlu dilakukan selari dengan pengesanan awal bagi memastikan kejayaan berganda.

”Perancis telah melakukan usaha yang agak baik dengan melakukan kempen pendidikan dan ujian secara besar-besaran, akibatnya ia mengesan kes Hepatitis C yang amat tinggi.

”Rawatan awal terhadap penyakit Hepatitis C mampu menyelamatkan nyawa,” kata Pedicone.

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