From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Hepatitis
Mains level : Not Much
Americans Harvey J Alter and Charles M Rice, and British scientist Michael Houghton were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology on Monday for the discovery of the hepatitis C virus.
Try this PYQ:
Q.Which one of the following statements is not correct? (CSP 2019)
(a) Hepatitis B virus is transmitted much like HIV.
(b) Hepatitis B. unlike Hepatitis C, does not have a vaccine.
(c) Globally, the number of people infected with Hepatitis B and C viruses arc several times more than those infected with HIV.
(d) Some of those infected with Hepatitis B and C viruses do not show the symptoms for many years.
Hepatitis C Virus
- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a bloodborne virus and causes liver diseases. It refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver.
- The novel virus caused several deaths in the 1960s and 1970s — but remained unknown until its discovery in the late 1980s.
What are other Hepatitis Viruses?
- Before the discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, two other viruses were known to cause hepatitis in patients.
- The Hepatitis A virus was known to spread mainly through contaminated food and water and caused a relatively milder form of liver inflammation.
- Hepatitis B, discovered in the 1960s, was known to transmit mainly through infected blood and caused a more serious form of the disease.
- Incidentally, the discovery of the Hepatitis B virus too was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Medicine, given to Baruch Blumberg in 1976. There are vaccines available for this disease now.
How Hepatitis C came to observation?
- The discovery and identification of the Hepatitis B virus facilitated the development of a diagnostic test to detect its presence in blood.
- Thereafter, only blood sanitized from this virus would be given to patients, but it was observed that even this sanitized blood was able to prevent only 20% of the blood-borne hepatitis cases.
- It was then that the search for the new virus began.
How is Hepatitis C treated?
- Presently there is no vaccine available for HCV. However, it can be treated with antiviral medication.
- Hepatitis A and B are preventable by vaccine.