Russia ranks sixth in hepatitis C infection.
According to expert estimates, at least 5 million compatriots are infected with this dangerous virus. Officially, there are about 2 million such patients.
Among the patients are dozens or even hundreds of thousands of children. Most of them became infected in utero, from the mother, however, more and more of those who get the virus through tattoos, piercings, hairdressing and manicure appear. Experts call for the introduction of a total screening of Russian children for viral hepatitis.
Today, more than 13 million children under the age of 15 suffer from chronic hepatitis C in the world. In Russia, the exact number of such patients is unknown.
Head of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Dietetics Clinic of the FITS Nutrition and Biotechnology Clinic, pediatrician Tatyana Strokova says that the number of children with viral hepatitis C in the country has noticeably increased in recent years: “The prevalence of the disease among children under 14 is 1.33 today. 100 thousand people, and up to 16 years old – 1.41 per 100 thousand people, which is three times higher than a few years ago. ”
How do kids get the virus? Most often from the mother, in utero (the number of such infections has increased since 2007 from 23 to 38%). Approximately 6% of children became infected through blood products as a result of operations. And yet, in most patients, the route of infection is not exactly known. This can be including hairdressing, tattoo parlors, and manicure and pedicure salons, which are so popular among teenagers. Meanwhile, non-sterile instruments and non-sterile paint are often used in such establishments.
“Both children and parents should be aware of all the risks when a child gets pierced or tattooed,” says Professor Niso Odinaeva, head freelance pediatrician of the Moscow Region.
In addition, doctors say that sexual relations now begin earlier than in the 20th century, and such an infection is transmitted through sexual intercourse. “Recently, the mother of an 18-year-old girl from a good family called. This is not a drug addict, not a social bottom. A huge number of patients are now infected in the living conditions, ”continues Dr. Odinaeva.
Doctors say that children are extremely difficult to diagnose. Indeed, only in 2% of cases the disease manifests itself with pronounced symptoms with yellowing of the face. In the absolute majority of cases, there are no symptoms at all or non-specific symptoms (weakness, anemia, fatigue, etc.). A person learns about an illness completely by chance, for example during preparation for an operation, sometimes already at the stage of cirrhosis.
By the way, in children, chronic viral hepatitis (and up to 80% of infections in chronic form) progresses much faster than in adults, after 5–8 years, it results in cirrhosis (in adults, the process takes up to 20 years).
Unfortunately, despite the emergence of new interferon-free treatment regimens, in most cases, patients are treated with outdated interferons, which produce as severe side effects as chemotherapy. In addition, the course of treatment lasts a year.
“Such therapy is poorly tolerated by children and negatively affects their growth and development, therefore, interferons are usually prescribed only with significant progression of the disease,” said Yuri Lobzin, academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, director of the Federal Clinical Infectious Diseases Center for Infectious Diseases.
Meanwhile, from last year in Russia, modern interferon-free treatment regimens have been used, and since this year, pangen-type drugs have been registered for children, affecting all the genotypes of the virus, which eliminates the need for complex diagnostics. The world is already everywhere abandoning interferon, especially in the treatment of children. New regimens are well tolerated, and treatments range from 8 to 12 weeks. Theoretically, in Russia they should be accessible through the MLA, but in practice it is extremely difficult to get them for the state account.
Serious problems with the diagnosis of children's hepatitis. Its experts recognize one of the main tasks and offer to introduce a total screening in all children's clinics of the country. Today, in many regions, children born to mothers with an established diagnosis of hepatitis C are not always tested.