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New programs in Egypt aim to educate citizens on dangers of hepatitis C

Egypt is working hard to combat the number of hepatitis C (HCV) cases by way of free clinics, national awareness campaigns and more, IRIN reports.

HCV is estimated to affect 25 percent of Egyptian residents over age 50 and three percent of those between the ages of 15 and 30, according to Waheed Doss, chairman of the National Anti-Virus C Campaign.

"We managed to dedicate more money for the treatment of the virus this year," Doss told the news outlet. "We managed to give free treatment to 140,000 patients last year alone," he told IRIN.

Many of those living with HCV became infected with the disease between the 1950s and 1980s when the government was trying to combat schistosomiasis or bilharziasis - an intestinal bacteria - that had been sweeping across the nation.

Doctors were reusing needles to give patients the antibiotics to cure the problem, which then caused an increased rate of HCV.

In hopes of decreasing the disease's presence in the country, Egypt was awarded $100 million through funding by the National Anti-Virus C Campaign to help supply free treatment and education for citizens. So far, approximately 160,000 people took the anti-HCV vaccines last year and the government plans to give out more each year, the news source said.

Educating the public about how the virus is spread is another crucial step in reducing the epidemic. Before the announcements were made, many people in rural areas where unaware of how it is spread.
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