With information from Mariana Tokarnia, Agência Brasil

The number of patients reported with cases of viral hepatitis in Brazil increased 20% from 2008 to 2018, according to the Epidemiological Bulletin of Viral Hepatitis 2019, released by the Ministry of Health. In 2008, 35,370 cases were registered. Ten years later, that number jumped to 42,383.

Despite the increase, the survey indicated a drop of 9% in total deaths, rising from 2,402 in 2007 to 2,184 in 2017.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by viruses or the use of some drugs, alcohol and other drugs, as well as by autoimmune, metabolic and genetic diseases. According to the Ministry of Health, they are silent diseases that do not always present symptoms, but when they appear, they can be tiredness, fever, malaise, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine and feces clear.

In Brazil, the most common viral hepatitis are those caused by viruses A, B and C. There are also D and E viruses, the latter most frequent in Africa and Asia.

Type of hepatitis

From 2000 to 2017, according to the bulletin, 70,671 deaths were identified for basic causes and associated with type A, B, C and D viral hepatitis. Of these, 1.6% were associated with viral hepatitis A; 21.3% to hepatitis B; 76% to hepatitis C and 1.1% to hepatitis D.
The bulletin shows that type C of the disease, in addition to being the most lethal, is the most prevalent. In all, 26,167 cases were reported in 2018.

The disease is transmitted by contaminated blood, unprotected sex and sharing of sharp objects. The largest number of people with hepatitis C is concentrated in people over 40 years. Hepatitis C does not always show symptoms. Therefore, the Ministry of Health estimates that, currently, more than 500 thousand people live with the hepatitis C virus and still do not know.

Combat

On the eve of World Day Against Viral Hepatitis, on July 28, the Ministry of Health warns of the importance of diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
In 2018, the Ministry of Health distributed 25 million hepatitis B and C tests. By 2019, with the strengthening of diagnostic actions and expansion of treatment, the expectation is that this number be surpassed.

In addition to the tests, the Unified Health System (SUS) offers hepatitis A vaccine for children under 5 years of age and risk groups. It also provides hepatitis B vaccine for all age groups. This vaccine also protects against hepatitis D.

Eliminação da hepatite C

O Brasil tem como meta eliminar a hepatite C até 2030. Para isso, nos últimos três anos, foram disponibilizados pelo SUS 100 mil tratamentos para hepatite C. Neste ano, foram entregues 24 mil tratamentos para a doença. Até o início de agosto, de acordo com o Ministério da Saúde, serão entregues outros 5 mil tratamentos.

Em 2019, o Ministério da Saúde adquiriu 42.947 tratamentos sofosbuvir/ledipasvir e sofosbuvir/velpatasvir. Outros 7 mil tratamentos estão em processo de aquisição.
De acordo com a pasta, todas as pessoas diagnosticadas com hepatite C têm a garantia de acesso ao tratamento, independente do dano no fígado, assegurando universalização do acesso previsto desde março de 2018. Essa ação, segundo o ministério, coloca o Brasil como protagonista mundial no combate à hepatite C.