How Do You Treat Hepatitis C
Treatment for hep C has come a long way. Patients used to require weekly interferon injections that required a course of six months to a year. Now, meds are in the form of a tablet thats taken over just a few weeks. Better yet, 80% of patients taking hep C meds report no side effects. Those who do experience them say theyre extremely mild and can be managed with OTC medications.
The beauty of todays treatments is that they can cure even chronic hep C cases that have been around for decades. Though these meds can eliminate the virus from a patients system, they cant cure damage already done to the liver or reverse liver cancerthose more serious complications will often require a separate course of treatment.
Can I Drink Alcohol If I Have Hepatitis C
The combination of any cause of hepatitis, such as alcohol on top of HCV, adds to and accelerates liver damage. Both hepatitis B and C can cause chronic hepatitis and progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer, although the disease is much more likely to become chronic in the U.S. Therefore, people with chronic HCV should not drink alcohol and should talk to a doctor about vaccines for other hepatitis viruses.
Pilot Study Of A Collaborative Multidisciplinary Integrated Care Model
At the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, nine patients who were actively using illicit drugs have been treated with peginterferon and ribavirin in a pilot study evaluating a collaborative, multidisciplinary, integrated care model that integrates the resources and expertise of community-based needle exchange programs with those of a tertiary care hepatitis C center. One patient was lost to follow-up, one had no virologic response to the medication, and one discontinued treatment because of hepatic decompensation. All six remaining patients are HCV RNA-negative to date four have had SVRs, one has had an end-of-treatment response and less than 24 weeks of follow-up, and one is still receiving treatment. Unexpectedly, five of the nine patients stopped their use of illicit drugs and one other patient substantially curtailed his use. All six cited the decision to start hepatitis C treatment or the news of their negative HCV RNA test as the factor motivating their decision. Although four of the nine patients had genotype 2 or 3 or acute HCV infection, factors associated with favorable outcomes, these results suggest that with appropriate support, hepatitis C treatment can be successful even for active drug users, and may serve as a bridge to healthier behaviors in other domains as well.
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Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
How Effective Is Hepatitis C Medication
Todays treatments are incredibly effective. According to the FDA, they have a 90-to-100% cure rate in just two to three months. A few months after your prescribed course of treatment is finished, your doctor will order a blood test to measure how much viral genetic material is in your blood. If none is visible, then youre considered cured. Note: These medications arent vaccines. There is no vaccine for hep C. While researchers continue to work on a vaccine in order to reach the World Health Organization’s goal of reducing infections by 80% in 2030, they have yet to be successful. So if you engage in risky behaviors, the condition could come back. It’s in your hands to live your life fully, safely!
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Pregnancy And Hepatitis C
The new hepatitis C medicines have not been tested in pregnancy.
You should not become pregnant while taking treatment as it could be harmful to unborn babies.
If you’re pregnant, you must delay treatment until after your baby is born.
Speak to your doctor before starting hepatitis C treatment if you’re planning to become pregnant in the near future.
You’ll need to wait several weeks after treatment has ended before trying to get pregnant.
Women taking ribavirin should use contraception during treatment and for another 4 months after the end of treatment.
Men taking ribavirin should use a condom during treatment and for another 7 months after the end of treatment. This is because semen can contain ribavirin.
If you become pregnant during treatment, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options.
Can A Transplant Cure Hepatitis C
If you develop chronic hepatitis C and it leads to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.
A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. However, theres a high likelihood that the hepatitis C virus will be transmitted to the new liver in time.
The virus lives in your bloodstream, not just your liver. Removing your liver wont cure the disease.
If you have active hepatitis C, continued damage to your new liver is very likely, especially if hepatitis C remains untreated.
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Is Hep C Curable
The latest drugs available for hepatitis C have high success rates when it comes to curing the condition.
In conversations with your doctor, you can discuss the full range of treatment options. Some of these are combination drugs.
But its important to note that not every medication may be effective for you, even if its for the right genotype.
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- Recent advances in antiviral treatment have led to the development of new highly effective drugs for the treatment of all types of hepatitis C.
- The new hepatitis C treatments are sofosbuvir with ledipasvir sofosbuvir daclatasvir and ribavirin .
- These new treatments are now available on the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme.
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What Does Treatment With The New Drugs Involve
The drugs are easy to take and are taken orally.
Treatment time is usually 12 weeks. However this may range between 8 and 24 weeks for a complete course of treatment, depending on the patients genotype, whether the patient has cirrhosis, treatment history and which of the drug combinations the prescriber chooses to use.
Who Can Prescribe The New Drugs
A section 85 listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will allow general practitioners, as well as specialists, to prescribe the new treatments. This means that people with hepatitis C will be able to be treated by a general practitioner in the community. However, people with more advanced care needs, such as cirrhosis, may still need to see a specialist.
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Need For Further Research
Although the studies reviewed in this article suggest that drug users can be successfully treated, little is known about effective methods of patient selection and management. Many of the studies reviewed here reported on small, diverse groups of sometimes highly selected patients recruited and treated in different settings with differing strategies. Data are sparse on the characteristics that distinguish those patients who can be successfully treated and the program elements that are critical for success. Larger studies that carefully describe characteristics and outcomes of patients and programs are needed to answer these questions. It is clear that patients who are no longer using illicit drugs need access to hepatitis C treatment and can benefit from it. Much less is known, however, about patients who continue to use drugs regularly or intermittently. The need for such research is urgent, in view of the overwhelming prevalence of hepatitis C in this population, the increasing morbidity and mortality of the disease, and the limited access of IDUs to liver transplantation . An estimated one million American IDUs have hepatitis C and need access to appropriate care.
Drug Combo Cures Hepatitis C In 3 Months: Study
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TORONTO A clinical trial has found that a simple drug regimen delivered over 12 weeks achieved sustained eradication of several strains of hepatitis C in 99 per cent of patients treated with the medications, researchers reported Monday.
Their study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that receiving a once-daily combination of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for a 12-week period was effective in both previously treated and never-treated patients with hepatitis C genotypes 1, 2, 4, 5 or 6.
This drug regimen changes the standard of care in treating patients with HCV. We can now cure almost everyone with a very simple treatment, said lead researcher Dr. Jordan Feld, a liver specialist at Toronto Western Hospital.
Current approved treatments for chronic HCV are not equally effective in combating the virus different forms. Testing to determine the particular genetic makeup or genotype of the virus has been required before treatment could be started.
But Feld said the combination of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir has been shown to work on all strains of hepatitis C virus, effectively eliminating the need for this testing, which often delayed treatment.
WATCH: New drugs bring new hope to hepatitis C patients
Chronic HCV is known as a silent killer because symptoms often dont appear until the liver is severely damaged. Left undiagnosed, the infection can lead to cirrhosis, which can progress to liver failure or liver cancer.
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Hcv Symptoms And Screening
Acute infection often has no symptoms or has symptoms that are mild and/or mistaken for other common illnesses. And chronic infection occurs over the course of years or even decades, again with symptoms — such as fatigue and depression — that are often attributed to a different cause. In fact, it is estimated that 50% of the 3.9 million adults who are living with HCV in the U.S. do not know it.
The CDC recommends that all adults born between 1945 and 1965, anyone who got clotting factor before 1987, and anyone who received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992 be screened at least once. The agency also recommends screening for long-term hemodialysis patients, as well as anyone who has ever shared needles for drug use , gotten an unregulated tattoo, or has HIV. In addition, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that everyone in the prison population be tested for HCV.
Unfortunately, we do not have a robust screening and surveillance system in place to track hepatitis C infections the way we do for HIV. In 2017, only 14 states received money from the CDC for HCV surveillance . And only 22 states require HCV testing for those coming into prison. Moreover, a recent survey of health care providers found that fewer than 30% are following the CDC’s screening recommendations.
Where Can I Go If I Have Further Questions Or Need More Information
- Your local GP and pharmacist can provide you with more information on the new treatments, including if they are right for you. To find a GP, please click here
- The Victorian Government funds a range of community organisations to provide information, care and support to people living with hepatitis C, and on the new treatments. For more information, please visit:
- Hepatitis Victoria’s website or their Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 703 003or refer to the Hepatitis Victoria, PBS factsheets
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Approach To Treating Drug Users
Patients with a history of substance dependence have a high prevalence of past losses and traumas. They experience stigmatization because of their substance use and often internalize the stigma. In addition, many IDUs have had negative experiences with the health care system and harbor suspicion and mistrust towards medical providers, which present challenges to developing trusting clinical relationships. Physicians can gain trust and establish good clinical relationships with IDUs by demonstrating characteristics that challenge these assumptions. Exhibiting caring and empathy, maintaining consistency, and being reliable are key features of successful patient-provider relationships. Explicitly acknowledging and reinforcing any positive change the patient is able to make, even minor progress, provides an opportunity to strengthen the patientâs sense of self-efficacy and commitment to improved health. Assessing barriers and working together with patients to generate strategies to overcome them can strengthen the clinical relationship, contribute to improved functioning, and strengthen adherence to medical care.
What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and damage. Inflammation is swelling that occurs when tissues of the body become injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.
Viruses invade normal cells in your body. Many viruses cause infections that can be spread from person to person. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with an infected persons blood.
Hepatitis C can cause an acute or chronic infection.
Although no vaccine for hepatitis C is available, you can take steps to protect yourself from hepatitis C. If you have hepatitis C, talk with your doctor about treatment. Medicines can cure most cases of hepatitis C.
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Who Can I Talk With During Treatment
Since hepatitis C treatment plans last several weeks, you should regularly attend medical appointments. Your doctor may have a list of local groups where you can find emotional support.
There may also be other resources like community nurses and walk-in clinics. With this information, youll know where to go for help between appointments.
Another option is to explore the online hepatitis C community, where people share their experiences with hepatitis C.
For example, the Inspire hepatitis C group allows people to connect, share stories, discuss treatment, and more.
How Do Doctors Treat Hepatitis C
Doctors treat hepatitis C with antiviral medicines that attack the virus and can cure the disease in most cases.
Several newer medicines, called direct-acting antiviral medicines, have been approved to treat hepatitis C since 2013. Studies show that these medicines can cure chronic hepatitis C in most people with this disease. These medicines can also cure acute hepatitis C. In some cases, doctors recommend waiting to see if an acute infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these newer, direct-acting antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis C:
You may need to take medicines for 8 to 24 weeks to cure hepatitis C. Your doctor will prescribe medicines and recommend a length of treatment based on
- which hepatitis C genotype you have
- how much liver damage you have
- whether you have been treated for hepatitis C in the past
Your doctor may order blood tests during and after your treatment. Blood tests can show whether the treatment is working. Hepatitis C medicines cure the infection in most people who complete treatment.
Hepatitis C medicines may cause side effects. Talk with your doctor about the side effects of treatment. Check with your doctor before taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
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How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis C Infection
If you dont have hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- wearing gloves if you have to touch another persons blood or open sores
- making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
Hepatitis C can spread from person to person during sex, but the chances are low. People who have multiple sex partners, have HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, or who engage in rough or anal sex have a higher chance of getting hepatitis C. Talk with your doctor about your risk of getting hepatitis C through sex and about safe sex practices, such as using a latex or polyurethane condom to help prevent the spread of hepatitis C.
If you had hepatitis C in the past and your body fought off the infection or medicines cured the infection, you can get hepatitis C again. Follow the steps above, and talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself from another hepatitis C infection.
If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.
How Effective Is Treatment
Direct acting antivirals cure 9 out of 10 patients with hepatitis C.
Successful treatment does not give you any protection against another hepatitis C infection. You can still catch it again.
There’s no vaccine for hepatitis C.
If treatment does not work, it may be repeated, extended, or a different combination of medicines may be tried.
Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you.
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