Did you know that more than 230 000 Australians are infected with the Hepatitis C Virus. As we know the disease progresses slowly over decades. A significant minority of patients will develop cirrhosis (5 -20% after 20 years) and be at risk of complications including liver failure and liver cancer. Did you know that Hepatitis C is the most indication for liver transplants in Australia..
The Australian Prescriber has published today a great article on what’s new with treating Hepatitis c and its enclosed for your information. In part the article identifies the following:
“Individuals at increased risk of Hepatitis C
- People who inject drugs or have done so in the past
- Sex workers
- People in custodial settings
- People with tattoos or body piercings
- People who received a blood transfusion/organ transplant before 1990
- Children born to mothers with hepatitis C
- Sexual partners of people with hepatitis C
- People with HIV or hepatitis B
- People with liver disease (persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase)
- People who have had a needle-stick injury
- Migrants from high-prevalence regions (Egypt, Pakistan Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, Africa and Southern Asia)
The article identifies the current treatments and drug regimes available in Australia and also outlines the side effects of these treatments. The authors conclude by identifying that “the clinical complications of hepatitis C can be prevented by viral eradication. All patients should be considered for treatment and actively engaged in care. Current subsidised regimens continue to include peginterferon. Although their efficacy is good, the associated toxicity means that only a minority of patients start antiviral therapy.
The introduction of interferon-free therapies in the near future will increase treatment efficacy, tolerability and uptake. These regimens will play a front-line role in tackling the hepatitis C epidemic, with expanded models of care as well as treatment prevention programs to reduce transmission.”