Read about the new and highly effective medications available for people who test positive for Hepatitis C
Between three and four million Americans have Hepatitis C. A particularly large segment of those afflicted are baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965. In addition to urging people with even one risk factor to speak to their health care providers about being tested for Hepatitis C, the American Liver Foundation wants to spread the word that there are new and highly effective medications available for people who test positive for the disease.
Standard treatments for Hepatitis C have included weekly injections of pegylated interferon, which can have substantial side effects. Success of treatment, also called “sustained virologic response” or SVR, was between 70 and 80 percent depending upon the genotype (strain) of the virus. This means that the Hepatitis C virus was no longer detectable in patients’ blood after treatment was completed.
In December 2013, two new medications came onto the market to treat Hepatitis C. Sovaldi, also known as Sofosbuvir, is a polymerase inhibitor. Olysio, or Simeprevir, is a protease inhibitor. Physicians have incorporated these medications into the treatment regimens for people with Hepatitis C. The good news is that in most cases, these medications are proving to be more effective than the treatment course previously prescribed in a shorter period of time.
In the past, people embarking on treatment for Hepatitis C could expect to take medications for six months to one year in duration. With Sofosbuvir and Simeprevir, however, treatment duration is often three to six months long. Side effects are minimal, making it easier for people to tolerate and complete treatment. Even more encouraging is that Sofosbuvir and Simeprevir are resulting in 85% to 95% success in patients achieving an SVR.
Anyone who is diagnosed with Hepatitis C should work closely with his or her physician to determine the best course of treatment. It is also very important that all patients stay in close contact with their physicians (preferably gastroenterologists, hepatologists or infectious disease specialists) to monitor their health. Everyone with Hepatitis C should be mindful about eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol, as well as being vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. This will aid in healthful living while undergoing treatment, which is now leading to very promising results.