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Taking Steps to Cure Hepatitis C

New treatment options are now available for hepatitis C; they are more effective, with far fewer side effects.

Not so long ago, treating hepatitis C was a decidedly bleak affair. And the prospect of curing the potentially life-threatening virus, or infection – which causes liver disease and inflammation of the organ – was a longshot. As a result, many patients opted to forgo treatment.

Dr. Mark Sulkowski, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and medical director at the Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Center for Viral Hepatitis, got involved in the treatment of hepatitis C in the mid-1990s. “At that time, we were giving injections of interferon – which is one of your body’s natural viral fighters; we gave these injections Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a period of up to 48 weeks, or nearly a year,” he recalls. “These treatments were universally linked to side effects, including flu-like symptoms, depression, weight loss and other abnormalities of bloodwork – and the cure rate … was between 6 and 15 percent – so a very ineffective treatment.”

Today, thanks to significant medical breakthroughs that include a new generation of medications approved within the last couple years that are highly effective in addressing the most common strains of hepatitis C, the vast majority of patients who undergo treatment can be cured. “They do not involve the older medication interferon,” Sulkowski says. “They are oral medications, generally given for a period of 12 weeks, that lead to a cure of chronic hepatitis C in more than 95 percent of people treated.” The drugs are also much better tolerated, experts say, with common side effects including fatigue, headache and nausea.

Read Full Article: Taking Steps to Cure Hepatitis C | Patient Advice | US News

Read Full Article: Taking Steps to Cure Hepatitis C | Patient Advice | US News

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