WIPING OUT HEPATITIS C
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, hepatitis C is a viral disease that leads to inflammation of the liver. The virus has an acute and chronic form. Most people who are infected with the virus have the chronic form. Some people are at an increased risk of developing the viral disease. People who may be at risk include those who:
• have been on long-term kidney dialysis.
• have regular contact with blood at work.
• have unprotected sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis.
• inject street drugs or share a needle with someone who has hepatitis C.
• received a tattoo or acupuncture with contaminated instruments.
• received blood, blood products, or solid organs from a donor who has hepatitis C.
• share personal items such as toothbrushes and razors with someone who has hepatitis C.
• were born to a hepatitis C-infected mother.
SYMPTOMS: Hepatitis C can oftentimes go undetected because most people recently infected with the virus do not have symptoms. Typically, there are no symptoms. A person who has been infected for several years may develop cirrhosis of the liver, abdominal pain or swelling, dark urine, fatigue or fever. In some cases, an infected person may experience jaundice, nausea, itching and a loss of appetite.
TREATMENT: If not caught in time, cirrhosis of the liver could develop into liver cancer. Physicians may use multiple medications to help remove HCV from the bloodstream. The most common medications are a combination of interferon alfa and ribavirin, which is an antiviral medication. Most patients receive weekly injections of the interferon and take ribavirin capsules twice a day. The treatment is given for 24-48 weeks.
Researchers now say boceprevir, a protease inhibitor, can be added to that regimen for increased success. Clinical trials showed that in the difficult-to-treat genotype 1 patients, boceprevir had sustained virological response rates as high as 67 percent.