Medical Xpress (11.06.2013)
A study reported in Medical Xpress found that only 25 percent of individuals with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection agree to and adhere to treatment. The current treatment includes interferon injections, which work approximately 16 percent of the time. When this drug works, it lowers the risk of dying from the disease by 45 percent, according to researchers from the University of Southern California. However, it does not always suppress the virus completely and many patients cannot tolerate the adverse reactions, including gastrointestinal problems and anemia.
The researchers studied more than 360,000 US military veterans with HCV. Of these patients, 97 percent were male, their average age was 52 years, and more than half was white while approximately one-third was black. Only 24 percent of the veterans with HCV elected to be treated for the disease and only 16.4 percent achieved undetectable levels of HCV in their blood. According to Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., these results mean that many of the volunteers may have stopped the drugs before completing the recommended 48 weeks of treatment.
The full report, “The Risk of Long-term Morbidity and Mortality in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Results from an Analysis of Data from a Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Registry,” was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine (2013; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12505).