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Note: This is more of the same good news for hepatitis C – falling liver cancer rates, less need for liver transplants and more people are being treated and cured. Now, if we can just get everyone tested, treated and cured we can move on with our lives! – Alan for www.hcvadvocte.org
“It’s a hidden disease. A lot of people, me included, don’t know they have hepatitis C until they have a blood test,” says Duncan MacInnes, during a recent visit to the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute.
MacInnes, 69, was infected with hepatitis C while working overseas, when doctors used unclean needles to give injections in the 1970’s. He didn’t know about his condition until the 1990’s. Hepatitis C damaged his liver by causing extreme scarring, called cirrhosis, a late stage of fibrosis that is now reversible with oral medications.
After five rounds of Interferon, which involves a year of injections three times each week and many side effects, doctors recently used new pills to treat MacInnes’s hepatitis C. Simple oral drugs and the liver’s ability to regenerate and heal itself cured his hepatitis C and helped him avoid a liver transplant.
Harvoni, a fixed-dose combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, safely and effectively treated hepatitis C virus infection in patients with sickle cell disease, according to findings from a small study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
“More recently, ribavirin- and interferon-free, oral, direct-acting antiviral (DAA) regimens have provided an opportunity to expand HCV treatment options for [patients with sickle cell disease] for whom older regimens were relatively contraindicated,” Mark S. Sulkowski, MD, medical director of the Viral Hepatitis Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an Infectious Disease News Editorial Board member, and colleagues wrote. “Despite widespread use globally, the safety, tolerability and efficacy of ledipasvir/sofosbuvir has not been stablished in HCV–infected patients with sickle cell disease.”
Researchers evaluated the safety and efficacy of ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF; Gilead Sciences) in patients with sickle cell disease — a population that until recently may have been ineligible for HCV treatment. In this open-label, single-center study, they enrolled 10 patients with HCV genotype 1 or 4 infection who received medical care for sickle cell disease at the Johns Hopkins Sickle Cell Center or treatment centers in the Baltimore area between April 2015 and January 2016. One patient with cirrhosis received one tablet of LDV/SOF (100 mg/400 mg) each day for 24 weeks. Nine patients without cirrhosis received the same medication daily for 12 weeks. The primary efficacy outcome was sustained virologic response (SVR) at 12 weeks after stopping treatment. They collected safety and efficacy data through the end of treatment and again at follow-up weeks 4 and 12.
Note: this is fascinating technology that could possibly change the way that hepatitis A, B, and C is diagnosed – Alan for www.hcvadvocate.org
New technology aims to be the first to detect all three major strains of hepatitis simultaneously
Researchers in the UK and China are joining forces to develop a graphene-based sensor for on-the-spot diagnosis of hepatitis A, B and C. Particularly useful in areas with a high incidence of the highly infectious liver disease, such as China, the sensor could help stop the spread of hepatitis by speeding up diagnosis and allowing treatment to start more quickly.
Currently, hepatitis is estimated by the World Health Organisation to result in 1.4million deaths per year. The disease leads to chronic infection, resulting in liver cancer and cirrhosis which lead to a million deaths per year, 40 per cent of which are in China. Diagnosis is currently by blood test, but this takes five to seven days, during which patients are still infectious. Moreover, because blood tests require trained medical personnel, they are expensive.
Click on the image below to find out more about Hepatitis Testing Day.
Hepatitis Testing Day is May 19, 2017. Visit the CDC testing page by clicking the image below. See more events on our Events page.
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There was never a specific moment where I said, “Today is the day I start my HCV advocacy work.” For me, it evolved as the landscape around hepatitis C drugs began changing.
When we started using interferon-free regimens for the first time — for us, it was off-label with simeprevir/sofosbuvir (Olysio, Janssen/Sovaldi, Gilead Sciences) — to treat our many patients with HIV coinfection, we found ourselves restricted by insurance companies.
The advocacy work developed from the natural frustration of not being able to obtain these curative medications for my patients.