Treatment for Hepatitis C looks as if it is going to be another good news story with oral medications with high cure rates within months of hopeful approval in the USA.
Hepatitis C is a disease that you often don’t know you have until you end up with something nasty like cirrhosis or liver cancer maybe 20 years after the initial infection.
Once you know you have it is possible to avoid the toxins that make liver destruction accelerate such as alcohol, the possibility of taking substances that may slow destruction down (coffee any body?) There is treatment right now but it involves injections for most , can make you feel bad like having the flu 3 days a week, and has significant serious side effects and which if you are going to get better lasts for months to a year and then maybe half will be cured..
The treatments round the corner promise oral treatments, few serious side-effects, short courses and the promise of 90% cure rates.
Whether all these come true when the treatments move from the research paper to real life remains to be seen but the options are looking very promising compared to anything out there right now.
Of course a vaccine would be nice. The idea of vaccines to prevent both disease now and cancers in the future is growing, so even if there is an effective treatment a vaccine that prevents the infection would of course be preferable.
- Seeking patients with hepatitis C
With all this good news, hepatologists cannot wait to get their hands on more patients and the CDC in the USA are looking for baby boomers born from 1945 to 1965 but others are looking to general doctors to look in all their patients for hepatitis C that don’t know their status. Looking for risk factors alone or abnormal liver tests has not been successful missing over a million in the USA that have the disease but are not aware. If the antibody comes back positive you may have had and successfully cleared the disease so a further check is needed to confirm active disease.
As part of your medical you may well be asked if you have had your hepatitis status checked. Those who are positive would have the chance to keep their disease to themselves, stay more healthy and be worked up and ready for the new treatments as they come available that is if they are not suitable for existing treatment options…