New Drug Combination More Effective at Treating People Co-Infected With HIV, Hepatitis C, NEJM Studies Say
July 30, 2004
A new drug combination that includes a chemically modified form of interferon known as peginterferon is much more effective in treating hepatitis C in patients co-infected with HIV than the standard hepatitis C treatment, according to two studies published in the July 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports. Approximately 300,000 HIV-positive people in the United States also have hepatitis C; the standard treatment for hepatitis C is ribavirin and interferon, which is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring immune system protein. The new studies examined the use of peginterferon, which stays active in the body for a longer period of time than interferon. The first study, conducted by Raymond Chung of Massachusetts General Hospital and colleagues, found that the hepatitis C virus was suppressed in 27% of the 66 patients co-infected with HIV who were treated with peginterferon and ribavirin for 48 weeks, compared with 12% of the 67 HIV-positive patients who received interferon and ribavirin for the same period of time, Reuters reports (Emery, Reuters, 7/28).
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