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Hepatitis C cases surge as drug addicts switch to injectors

Srinagar, Jan 29:  Umar (name changed), 19, disclosed the secret of heroin addiction to his parents when he puked repeatedly and developed a deathly pale yellow color in his eyes.

After undergoing a serology test (the study of blood and other fluids from the body), at the drug de-addiction center at the Department of Psychiatry, SMHS Hospital, the teenager was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.


“I got hooked to heroine in class 12. I used to initially inhale the vapors from heating the solution of heroin. Later on, I took to injections to get a high of greater intensity. I would do this by sharing the needles among my friends,” he said.

Little did he know the new form of injectable addiction would lead him to a deadly Hepatitis C.

Similarly, 30-year-old Rashid (name-changed), a heroin injector, who was married for last one and half year, was rushed to the hospital last week when he retained water in his abdomen.

It was there, when the test reports showed that he suffered from Hepatitis C.

Kashmir has seen a rise in the cases of drug addiction especially that of heroin abuse in the past few years.

However, the trend is shifting. From heroin chasers to heroin injectors, the latter is showing predominance, resulting in diseases like Hepatitis C through the shared needles.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contaminated blood.

Figures released by drug de-addiction center, Department of Psychiatry SMHS Hospital, reveal that the total number of drug abusers reported with Hepatitis C in 2019 was 31.

However, this year alone, seven patients are already confirmed with Hepatitis C even as January is yet to end. This number is double the average of three patients per month last year.

Dr. Yasir Rather, psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Srinagar said the number of patients at drug de-addiction center suffering from hepatitis C is increasing at an alarming level.

“They acquire the disease after using infected syringes while injecting drugs. This makes them prone to infections like Hepatitis C,” he said.

The doctor noted that the viral infection can cause significant complications, such as, liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.