AUC promoting Hep C awareness

AUC promoting Hep C awareness

American University in Cairo (AUC) students launched an awareness campaign to raise awareness of the deadly Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) this month. The campaign hopes to help make Egyptians understand the dangers of the virus under the slogan “Be active. Get tested. Stop the spread.”

The ceremony at the university’s campus was attended by AUC President David Arnold, Nadhmi Auchi, founder of the Nadhmi Auchi, founder of the Nadhmi Auchi Young Arab Leaders Fellowship Program Professor Abdel-Rahman al-Zayadi of Ain Shams University – the students launching the campaign are studying under the Nadhmi Auchi fellowship – and Professor Hassan Azzazy, head of the AUC chemistry department at AUC and the supervisor for the campaign.

Zayadi, in his talk at the inaugural ceremony, warned that some 70 to 80 percent of HCV patients in the country are likely to develop chronic infections that could result in other, even deadlier diseases, such as liver cancer.

“Egypt is one of the areas with a high prevalence. The rates in north Egypt are higher than the rates in south Egypt, 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively,” he argued.

According to a press statement issued by the student campaign, HCV infection rates in Egypt are extremely high. They stated that some 10 million people are effected, which was part of the reason for launching the new campaign.

“If people understand that it is a serious problem and know the high numbers of people with HCV, people will take positive steps to protect themselves,” said Reem al-Olaby, one of the Auchi fellows who is studying biotechnology and working on a thesis on HCV.

The local campaign began on October 11 and runs through October 20. It includes a series of lectures on the deadly affects of HCV by such specialists as Zayadi and Professor Manal el-Sayed, a member of the Egyptian National Committee for Control of Viral Hepatitis. Sessions will be in English as well as Arabic as an effort to educate AUC employees who do not speak English.

“We have prepared brochures and flyers in English and Arabic to explain facts about the infection, methods of transmission, current tests and treatment options,” Azzazy said, adding that the campaign also includes a free test for HCV for individuals interested in knowing their HCV status.

However, despite the good intentions, a vast majority of English speaking Cairo residents, both Egyptian and foreign, do not know that the virus is as rampant in Egypt as the campaign states. Ashraf Mahmoud, a 27-year-old architect and American citizen, said that he was shocked to hear about the statistics and worries about how this could change his daily life.

“I love the local cafes and now that I hear this, I don’t think I will be going there as often, unless I get my own hose to smoke shisha,” he admitted.

According to Al-Olaby, one of the main activities of the campaign is the “rotating awareness” for AUC community. “We talk to students, faculty, staff and workers face to face, dividing ourselves between the schools, departments and places like the food court and the sports facility. I believe that all the people on campus have the right to get the information,” she said. “Moreover,” she added in a press release from AUC, “the campaign includes a fun part like a Parkour Show and a football match where the whole community is invited.”