An analysis from British Columbia, Canada shows that older people, individuals with HIV co-infection, people with cirrhosis and – to some extent – injecting drugs users have been significantly more likely to receive directly acting antiviral treatments, compared to the older interferon-based treatments. The findings show that in the current era, treatment uptake has improved for groups who tended not to receive interferon-based treatments, Naveed Janjua and colleagues write in the August issue of the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.
However individuals living in economically deprived neighbourhoods remained significantly less likely to receive treatment, although healthcare is publicly funded and free of charge to patients in British Columbia.
In the era of interferon-based treatments for hepatitis C, the rate of treatment uptake was low (below 15%) and especially so for certain population groups, including people living with HIV and people who inject drugs. Some of the barriers to treatment included increased side-effects and healthcare providers’ expectations of poor adherence. The availability of short course, highly effective and well-tolerated direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) could be expected to remove barriers and increase treatment rates.
Note: This is an awesome report that could identify much more people with hepatitis C, drive down costs and save many lives. Alan
Costs associated with treating hepatitis C could decrease substantially if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadened its policy for who should receive the one-time HCV antibody test, new research has found.
A simulation performed by researchers at the University of Chicago projects that expanding the CDC’s one-time HCV testing recommendations to include patients 18 years and older could be more cost-effective, improve quality of life, and save a larger number of lives even if a low number of people are screened.
David B. Rein, PhD, program area director of the public health analytics program at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, and leader of the study group, said patients could benefit from the policy change because it would require that they be screened earlier. “When you’re tested earlier, it doesn’t progress to more severe disease stages,” Dr. Rein said. “You avoid those [treatment] costs, and you avoid those health outcomes associated with treating later-stage hepatitis C.”
Note: This article appeared in the November 2016 HCV Advocate newsletter-Alan
The newest hepatitis C medications are changing lives, are easier to take, and curing nearly everyone. There is a menu of choices, and wading through the ins and outs of each can be daunting. In a perfect world, your medical provider will evaluate your condition and make a recommendation about the best course of treatment for you.
Unfortunately, the world is not perfect. The price of the newest hepatitis C drugs is making it difficult to get hep C treatment from some private and government insurance plans. Many people have successfully fought these denials. However, there is one obstacle that is hard to get around—your own provider. What can you do if your doctor won’t prescribe hepatitis C treatment, or wants to prescribe an older regimen, when clearly there are newer ones available?
I’ve seen a fair amount of data showing the percentages of denials by insurance companies for treatment of chronic hepatitis C viral infection (HCV); I’ve seen none about denials of treatment by providers. When a person contacts me because their insurer has denied treatment, I can provide resources to help them appeal the denial. When a person is offered an inferior or no hep C treatment, the only suggestion I have is, “Find a new doctor.” Not everyone can, particularly if they live in an area where there are few medical specialists, or their choices are restricted by their health plan.
If your doctor isn’t going to treat you, good luck changing his or her mind. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying. We are talking about your health, and you are worth fighting for. Some medical providers are open-minded, and are genuinely happy to learn new information. You have little to lose by speaking up on your own behalf.
If you don’t get the response you want from your doctor, here are some suggestions:
If the treatment your doctor prescribed for you isn’t on your plan’s formulary, consider changing insurance plans during the next open enrollment period. The Patient Advocate Foundation’s Hepatitis C CareLine keeps track of formulary changes, and will provide information to you.
Consider travel or telemedicine. Some physicians see their patients using web-based services, and prescribe lab tests and treatment accordingly. Click here for information about accessing generic hepatitis C drugs.
Speak up. Talk to advocacy groups such as NVHR and Help4Hep (877Help-4-Hep/877-435-7443). If you have trouble accessing treatment through your state Medicaid program, report this to NVHR.
Don’t despair. Despair serves no one. It will steal all the life out of you and will not help you get your hepatitis C medications. The “system” may deny your hepatitis C treatment, but don’t let them also have your precious joy.
In an unrelenting opioid epidemic, hepatitis C is infecting tens of thousands of mostly young, white injection drug users, with the highest prevalence in the same Appalachian, Midwestern and New England states that are seeing the steepest overdose death rates.
Like the opioid epidemic that is driving it, the rate of new hepatitis C cases has spiked in the last five years. After declining for two decades, new hepatitis C cases shot to an estimated 34,000 in 2015, nearly triple the number in 2010, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
With better screening for the bloodborne disease and more treatment using costly but highly effective new drugs, hepatitis C could be eradicated, according to a new study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, NVHR mourns the many lives lost to drug overdose — more than 50,000 in 2015 alone. We remember the people who died, and we denounce the stigma and discrimination they faced when they lived.
People like Andrea Roberts, a 35-year-old mother of two children. Ms. Roberts had been incarcerated for about 6 weeks at LaPorte County Jail in Indiana, unable to afford bail, and had 2 weeks remaining until her release. Then, on July 15, 2017, a jail supervisor discovered her “unresponsive” in her cell. Within 30 minutes, after CPR was attempted, Ms. Roberts was pronounced dead.
No one knew the cause of death when notifying her family the next day. “I think something happened and they don’t want us to know,” her aunt said. Her sister said Ms. Roberts sounded “perfectly fine” when they had spoken the previous day. Her friend said she thought Ms. Roberts “had an infection in her arm,” but was equally stunned by the news.
Radio interview available
Alaska is one of many states with staggering rates of opioid abuse. Three-quarters of Alaska’s overdose deaths last year are attributed to prescription painkillers or heroin. Transmission of blood-borne viruses like hepatitis C is also increasing dramatically, and with it health care costs. Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes reports.
ZACHARIAH HUGHES, BYLINE: Inside a cramped supply closet, a volunteer runs through questions as a 26-year-old woman empties dozens of used needles into a red trash can.
ZANE DAVIS: So how many needles did you have?
Healthy newborns should receive their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within the first 24 hours of birth to improve their protection against the enduring and potentially fatal disease, according to an updated policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease. Chronic infection over the course of a lifetime can lead to liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, or even death.
Newborns can acquire this infection at birth if a mother is infected with hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis B vaccine administered after birth is highly effective in preventing newborn infection. Yet, approximately 1,000 new cases in infants are identified annually in the United States.