New treatments for hepatitis C offer a glimpse at a future of much lower infection rates of this disease in the United States. In fact, researchers from Yale suggest that the prevalence of hepatitis C could drop by 80%.
Novel antiviral therapies for hepatitis C could reduce the prevalence of the blood-borne infection by more than 80%, according to an analysis by Yale researchers. The finding raises the possibility of greatly reducing, and even eliminating, hepatitis C in the United States if enhanced screening and treatment efforts target high-risk populations.
The study published online Dec. 1 in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Recently approved direct-acting antiviral medications have transformed treatment for individuals with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and are effective in over 90% of cases. The antivirals have the potential to significantly reduce or eliminate HCV in two ways: through treatment to prevent HCV-related complications and deaths, and by preventing further transmission among injection-drug users.
To study the effects of the new treatments on the U.S. population, the Yale team developed a transmission model to predict the effect of treatment with direct-acting antivirals over time. They also quantified the impact of use of the antivirals at current and at enhanced screening and treatment rates. Their analysis included outcomes such as cirrhosis, liver transplants, and mortality.
“The key finding is that a four-fold increase to the number of patients treated each year could virtually eliminate HCV from the non-injecting population within a decade,” said Jeffrey Townsend, associate professor of public health and senior author of the study. More modest increases in screening and treatment would also markedly reduce new infections and mortality, Townsend and co-authors determined.
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