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U.S. News

Get Tested, Treated for Hepatitis

June 29, 2011

Hepatitis C "is a neglected disease in the United States that is killing thousands," according to Atlanta liver specialist Dr. Norman Gitlin. "Next time you go to Turner Field and they announce that 50,000 people are watching the Braves, 1,000 of them have hepatitis C."

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Of the 4 million Americans believed to have hepatitis C virus, just 800,000, 20 percent, have been diagnosed or offered treatment. The reason, Gitlin said, is two-fold: Americans are woefully unaware of HCV, and most people who are infected do not show symptoms.

Those most at-risk are baby boomers, who might have been infected with HCV decades ago either through blood transfusions, drug use, sex or treatment for hemophilia. Body piercings and tattoos also carry risk. The blood-borne virus can lie dormant for decades.

While there is no vaccine against HCV, the disease can be cured, Gitlin said. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved two new medicines, Incivek and Victrelis, each of which, combined with standard treatment of ribavirin and pegylated interferon, can boost the rate of sustained virological response and reduce the time of treatment.

Gitlin said HCV "accounts for 54 percent of all liver transplants in the country. So you need to be identified and treated before it progresses to late-stage disease."

Back to other news for June 2011

Adapted from:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
06.09.2011; Gracie Bond Staples


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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