Curing Hepatitis C


BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms. In fact, most people don't know they have the hepatitis C infection until liver damage shows up, decades later, during routine medical tests. Every year, 3–4 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 150 million people are chronically infected and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. More than 350,000 people die from hepatitis C-related liver diseases every year. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c; www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets)


TRANSMISSION: The hepatitis C virus is most commonly transmitted through exposure to infectious blood. It may also be transmitted through sex with an infected person or sharing personal items contaminated with infectious blood, but these are less common. Hepatitis C is not spread through breast milk, food or water or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing and sharing food or drinks with an infected person. (SOURCE: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets)


LATEST MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: Combination antiviral therapy with interferon and ribavirin has been the mainstay of hepatitis C treatment. Unfortunately, interferon is not widely available globally and it is not always well tolerated. The Holy Grail for hepatitis C researchers has been to discover new drugs that work better and that work without negative side effects. Dozens of drug companies and hundreds of research scientists have been working on this for more than a decade. Now, the approval of two hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitors by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in --boceprevir and telaprevir--marked the start of a new chapter in hepatitis C treatment. However, the story of hepatitis C treatment will not end here. Several new drugs are being developed for all strains of HCV; many may be approved in the next few years, making new treatment regimens available for patients. (SOURCE: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/; www.ft.com/cms; www.hepatitis.va.gov)


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Sara Steffen

Mercy Medical Center




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