Campaign launched to raise awareness on hepatitis and HIV
By Jonathan Shkurko

The Cyprus Liver Patients and Friends Association ‘Prometheus’ and the HIV/AIDS Support Centre (KYFA) held a joint press conference on Friday along with Health Minister Michael Damianos to announce the start of campaign aimed at raising public awareness about viral hepatitis and HIV on July 28, coinciding with ‘World Hepatitis Day’.

During the conference, stressed highlighted that strengthening health services is a priority for the ministry.

We must ensure that all citizens have equal access to quality health services for the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases,” he said.

“Upgrading health infrastructures, enhancing human resources, and continuously training medical and nursing staff are critical for the effective treatment of viral hepatitis and HIV.”

He also underlined the health ministry’s ongoing commitment to continue working with dedication and consistency to achieve the goal of testing for viral hepatitis and HIV and protecting public health.

Speaking after Damianos, the president of ‘Prometheus’ Yiannoula Koulla said that viral hepatitis is the second leading infectious cause of death worldwide, adding that in 2022, deaths from viral hepatitis increased to 1.3 million globally.

“Chronic viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the western world and a major cause of hepatocellular cancer worldwide,” Koulla said in her remarks.

She then also said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) aims for comprehensive screening for viral hepatitis by 2030, describing this target “ambitious but achievable with the right effort and collaboration from multiple stakeholders and health authorities.”

Moreover, she mentioned the upcoming potential establishment of a national committee for viral hepatitis, before urging the authorities to also establish a national observatory to record epidemiological data.

“The data collected from the observatory would improve the decision-making process on drug administration, patient access to appropriate treatments, and patient monitoring,” she said.

Koulla also thanked KYFA’s head Stella Michaelidou for her contribution to the conference, as well as the Cyprus Medical Association, and the Cyprus Society of Gastroenterology for their support.

Echoing her, Michaelidou highlighted the importance of collaboration to inform the public about hepatitis and particularly about prevention.

In particular, she stressed the importance of vaccination against hepatitis B as the most effective way to prevent the infection.

An initiative called ‘KYFA Checkpoint’ was also presented at the press conference. Interested individuals can call 1464 to arrange a free test.

The information campaign on viral hepatitis and HIV will also include a training seminar on July 26, in collaboration with the office of the WHO in Cyprus.