China Daily (Beijing) (06.01.2013)
On June 1, 2013—which was Tsinghua-Janssen Public Health Day—Wei Lai, president of the Chinese Society of Liver Diseases of the Chinese Medical Association, announced the launch of a project to screen high-risk Chinese for hepatitis C virus (HCV). Lai stated that the society would release official standards for HCV screening and management likely by the end of June. The standards would define high-risk groups—gay men, injection drug users, dialysis patients, people who had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, and individuals whose mother tested positive for HCV—and establish how often they should receive HCV testing. The project’s initial rollout will include 10–30 Chinese mainland hospitals.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 200,000 acute and chronic HCV cases in 2012, an increase of 30,000 over 2011. Official estimates indicate at least 10 million Chinese have tested positive for HCV and the number could be higher than 40 million. HCV-infected individuals who do not receive “proper and timely medical attention” present a public health threat and have greater personal risk, according to Chinese Academy of Engineering Professor Zhuang Hui.
There is no vaccine for HCV. The virus often causes no symptoms for many years, but eventually can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Hui warned that HCV transmission can occur through blood-to-blood contact associated with injection drug use, unsafe piercing, or sharing a razor or toothbrush with an infected person. The World Health Organization estimates 130–200 million people worldwide have HCV.