North Dakota: Doctors Collecting Information on Hepatitis Drug
January 4, 2006
A team of Bismarck doctors are using data from medical charts to analyze the treatment of North Dakota prisoners infected with hepatitis C. Drs. Jeff Hostetter, Kent Martin, John Hagan and Olimpia Rauta will eventually present the information to CDC.
Methamphetamine, which is linked to needle-sharing by drug users, is being blamed for a rise in hepatitis C cases. In 2000, Hostetter said 10 percent of inmates in the North Dakota State Penitentiary were meth users. That number rose to 62 percent in 2005. "People who use meth have high-risk behavior," explained Hostetter. "When they're tweaked out on meth, they don't care about having clean needles."
Martin and Hagan have been treating hepatitis C-infected inmates with consensus interferon, a drug that is less expensive and has fewer side effects than the more common treatment. However, consensus interferon must be administered three times a week, which proves difficult from some patients. "They forget or just don't come in for the shot. It's not effective if they don't get them," said Hostetter.
According to Hostetter, inserting a pump to deliver consensus interferon is an option for ensuring timely dosing. Another option is having public health officials give the injections to make sure patients receive them on time.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.