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Medical News

Hepatitis C Not a Life Sentence, So Act Early: Doctor

April 22, 2009

The earlier the treatment of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) -- before significant liver damage occurs -- the better the outcome, according to results from an international study.

The findings of the CHARIOT study, which enrolled 900 patients with difficult-to-treat HCV genotype 1, are being presented in Copenhagen at this week's 44th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver. The intensive treatment consisted of conventional drugs and lasted for 12 months.

"The sooner you get treatment, the more likely it is to be successful," said study investigator Dr. Hugh Harley, head of hepatology at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia. "Seven out of 10 patients will be cured by treatment if they don't have much scar tissue, whereas if they already have developed significant scar tissue -- and that takes a long time, I might add -- the results are more like three out of 10. All the evidence we have would suggest that the virus is cured, and if it's not cured then it's in such small amounts that it is not doing any damage at all."

Patients with less-resistant HCV genotypes 2 or 3 have a cure rate of up to 80 percent after six months of treatment, Harley said. But just 2 percent of Australians with HCV infection seek treatment.

"Despite our best efforts over 10, 20 years, the message is still not through to everybody who is infected with this," Harley said. "There are still people out there who think hepatitis C is a sentence but it's not, it's an illness that is treatable. At the end of the day, we're hoping these people are going to come forward now, that we'll get to see them early in the clinical course of their disease with the prospect that our treatment is going to be more successful."

Back to other news for April 2009

Adapted from:
Australian Associated Press
04.22.2009; Danny Rose

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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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