New drugs and outreach efforts helped VA to treat thousands of Veterans. Now, Veterans cured of HCV are estimated 72% less likely to develop liver cancer.
VA has reached a significant milestone in curing more than 100,000 Veterans of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), establishing VA as a global leader in the diagnosis and treatment of HCV.
HCV infection can lead to advanced liver disease (ALD), liver cancer and early death. Curing HCV can prevent the development or progression of ALD, cutting death rates by up to 50%. Until recently, HCV treatment required medications to be taken daily by mouth and weekly by injection for up to a year, with cure rates as low as 35%. Additionally, this treatment had disabling medical and psychiatric side effects, which caused over half of patients to stop treatment prematurely.
“These efforts have been nothing short of life-saving for tens of thousands of Veterans, and that’s precisely why VA has made diagnosing, treating and curing hepatitis C virus infection such a priority,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
In early 2014, highly effective, less toxic, all-oral, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) became available for HCV treatment. These new drugs have few and less severe side effects and can be given as one pill a day for as little as eight weeks, revolutionizing HCV treatment. VA adopted use of these new medications within days of FDA approval.
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