Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions. People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

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Alan Franciscus


HCV Advocate

Showing posts with label hepatitis C. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hepatitis C. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2015

Diabetes Thought to Increase Risk for Hepatic Cancer

A retroactive study presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting for the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) suggests that diabetes increases the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common form of liver cancer. The disease generally occurs secondary to hepatitis C infection or in cirrhosis from other causes.

The study authors used data from MarketScan, which is a database for insurance claims of all kinds. They found 7,473 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. The authors also included 22,110 controls matched for comorbidities, age, sex, and gender, leading to a 1-to-3 ratio of subjects to controls for 99% of the case subjects. The patients included in the case group had hepatocellular carcinoma with hepatitis C with DM, without DM, and DM alone. The study also looked at the impact of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.


HIV, Hepatitis C outbreak continues in Indiana

BATESVILLE, IN (FOX19) - It's been months since the story about southeastern Indiana’s HIV epidemic went national and now, the state is still trying to bounce back from what Governor Pence called 'the worst outbreak in state history.' The outbreak is stemming from the widespread heroin problem in the region.

On Thursday, FOX19 NOW spoke with a doctor in Batesville, Indiana who told us if users don't get tested for HIV soon, the problem is only going to get worse.

The heroin crisis in Indiana has caused an explosion of not only HIV cases but Hepatitis C cases in the area as well.

Read more....

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hepatitis C: behind new wonder drugs lies a terrible dilemma

There are 160m carriers of the hepatitis C virus across the world. Combined with the hepatitis B virus, which has 240m carriers, this causes 1.4m deaths every year.
Yet there are grounds for optimism around hepatitis C. Numerous pharmaceutical companies have recently brought to market new sets of “direct-acting antiviral” medicines to combat the infection. These have been shown to permanently clear the hepatitis C virus in 90% of patients in only a few short weeks, and with negligible adverse effects. It is not an overstatement to say that these antivirals have the potential to do for hepatitis C what oral vaccination did for polio.
But there is a fly in the ointment. The new drugs are unaffordable. Take the UK as an example, where around 214,000 people live with hepatitis C. Going by the indicated list price of £35,000 per treatment course, it would cost around £7.5 billion to treat every infected person. Even the staunchest hepatitis advocate would concede that since that approaches the entire NHS annual drug budget, treating everyone is not feasible in the short term.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Vincent McKay: Action needed tackle death toll from viral hepatitis

Last month, Glasgow’s Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) played host to the World Hepatitis Summit – the world’s first response to last year’s World Health Assembly Resolution calling for concerted action to reverse the ever-rising death toll from viral hepatitis.

The summit was a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA) event hosted by the Scottish Government and supported by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Health Protection Scotland.

At GCU, in association with Health Protection Scotland, researchers have led a broad programme on the burden of hepatitis C and interventions to prevent infection and associated disease, which provided the key evidence for the Scottish Government’s Hepatitis C Action Plan.

Read more....

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hepatitis C May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

Positive hepatitis C infection may increase risk for liver damage as well as future heart problems, according to findings published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.  

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine evaluated almost 1,000 men aged 40 to 70 years with or without human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), of which 87 also had hepatitis C in order to measure associations between hepatitis C with coronary atherosclerosis. About 750 men participating in the study also underwent CT angiography. The participants, who did not have overt existing heart disease, were recruited from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, a larger study focused on men who have sex with men.

Prior research demonstrated that people with HIV already have an elevated risk for heart disease, but the researchers believe their findings here offer strong support for hepatitis C also contributing to cardiovascular damage independent of HIV status.

Read more....

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Can Non-Invasive Tests Assess Fibrosis in Hepatitis?

 Percutaneous liver biopsy is a proven way to rate the fibrosis stage both in hepatitis in chronic hepatitis C patients and hepatitis B  patients. But it is uncomfortable for patients, risks complications and is prone to assembling errors.

Reporting at ID Week 2015 in San Diego, CA, Tuma Demirdal, DR, and colleagues at the Katip Celebi University in Izmir, Turkey compared these invasive tests with non-invasive methods.

They looked at 236 patients with chronic hepatitits C and hepatitis B who had ultrasound guided liver biopsy over a seven year period Histological grading of necroinflammation and fibrosis ere performed according to Knodell an ISAK scoring systems. APRI, n-APRI, FIB-4, FI scores were calculated.

  Read more....

Monday, October 12, 2015

RIVERSIDE COUNTY: Woman on a mission to get clean needles to drug users

Motivated by friends' deaths, she is setting up a nonprofit group and lobbying local officials -- with some offering resistance and some expressing support.

Growing up, Katie Chamberlain walked the straight and narrow as a “dorky straight-A student.”

The Riverside resident attended a Christian school until ninth grade. The stark reality of drugs hit home the second week of classes, when a classmate died of a heroin overdose.

Over the years, the 27-year-old watched with sadness and despair as too many friends fell victim to illegal narcotics.

Read more.....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hepatitis C cases on rise in northeast Indiana, Allen County proposes needle-exchange program

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (October 6, 2015) — Officials in northeastern Indiana’s Allen County have taken a first step toward creating a needle exchange to combat the county’s growing hepatitis C cases.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Health unanimously approved a resolution Monday calling for a needle-exchange program to slow the spread of the disease among intravenous drug users.

Allen County has had about 270 new hepatitis C cases during the first nine months of 2015. That’s more than in any of the past three years.

Read more....

Health plan tiers raise drug costs for hepatitis patients

This is important information to think about if you have open enrollment.  Jacques Chambers article "Open Enrollment" will be featured in the next issue of the October Mid-Monthly HCV Advocate Newsletter - Alan

By Bob Herman  | October 5, 2015

A new report says that health insurance companies discriminate against people with hepatitis B and C by charging high out-of-pocket costs for drugs, but the industry lobby has called the analysis “very one-sided” and limited in scope.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits health insurers from discriminating against people on the basis of age, gender or health conditions, and the federal government has already made it clear it will monitor health plans sold on the public exchanges to ensure they meet ACA standards.

The not-for-profit AIDS Institute examined silver-level health plans that were sold on Florida's insurance marketplace in 2015. The group found that eight of the 12 insurers that sold 2015 plans had what it deemed as discriminatory practices for hepatitis B and C drugs. For example, Aetna placed many of its hepatitis drugs on the most expensive tiers with coinsurance rates up to 50%. Humana had a $1,500 prescription drug deductible and also had many of its hepatitis drugs on the highest tiers with large cost-sharing, the report found.

Read more....

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why needle exchange programs work

 By Kara Blake
As a vocal advocate for harm reduction and needle exchange services, I have often been asked, “why needle exchange?” To public health professionals, needle exchange programs (NEPs) are an obvious and urgently needed intervention. Research study after research study continues to show conclusively that NEPs reduce the transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis, are tremendously cost-effective, and provide a range of other services that benefit the participants and greater community. Even though the evidence is clear, public and political pushback against NEPs persists across the country. Cape Cod is no exception.
Without proper information, it might make sense that a citizen or politician may be resistant to the idea of a needle exchange. How could this intervention possibly support drug users? Won’t this only perpetuate their addiction and its consequences? Won’t this facility increase crime and drug use in my community? The answer, plainly, across the board, is no.
Someone who accesses a needle exchange is making what can be the first contact with a professional about their addiction. Recognizing that not all people using drugs are ready, willing or able to stop using at that moment, staff compassionately discuss and educate participants on the potential harms associated with their drug use, and how to reduce those harms. Rather than shame drug users and require abstinence, staff meet and talk with people where they are in their addiction without judgment. This approach is called “harm reduction.” Through such relationships, participants are also able to access services such as screening for HIV, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections, access to Narcan and overdose prevention, enrollment in health insurance, and referrals to substance use treatment and medical care.
Read more....

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Hepatitis C Doctor Investigation Report Released -- Health Department Releases Report in Dr. Thomashefsky Investigation

This is unbelievable in this day and age......Alan

Santa Barbara, CA.  The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has released a report into the investigation of Allen Thomashefsky, the Santa Barbara doctor accused of malpractice that lead to several patients contracting Hepatitis C

The report found that during an unannounced visit to Thomashefsky's medical practice by health officials, the physician did not wash his hands prior to a procedure. "When questioned, the physician stated that the sink was in the kitchen, he didn't want to walk back and forth, and believed his hands were clean," the report says.

According to the report, the physician did not wear gloves during the procedure either and when asked to wear gloves, he replied, "He has been practicing the same way for over 30 years and has never had a patient report any problems...The physician declined to wear gloves and used bare hands during the procedure."

Read more....

PCORI approves $83m for hepatitis C and other studies

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has approved $83m to fund 26 patient-centered, comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies on a range of conditions and patient populations.

About $29.5m will support studies on caring for people affected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Awards totaling around $7.4m will fund research on rare conditions in response to PCORI's offer of a special pool of funding for supportingt rare disease research.

The HCV studies will include national advocacy organizations, professional associations, and stakeholder groups in their research design and implementation.

Read more....

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hepatitis C drug costs challenges DOC budget

Covering the cost of a new treatment for hepatitis C treatment for a growing number of patients is a challenge for the Department of Corrections.

Oregon faces budget-busting costs for expensive new treatments for hepatitis C, and the issue is not limited to the state’s Medicaid program.

The prison system also faces higher costs from a new drug that cures many people of the potentially deadly disease, but costs the Department of Corrections roughly $70,000 per inmate for the 12-week treatment. The Legislature already approved an additional $3.2 million in a supplemental budget bill earlier this year to cover the drug Harvoni for inmates, after the number of inmates treated rose sharply in December. The increase was also part of the reason the Legislature boosted the Department of Corrections’ latest two-year budget for medical supplies by nearly 32 percent.

Read more.....

Efficacy and safety of Paritaprevir/r/Ombitasvir/Dasabuvir ±Ribavirin in GT1 HCV infected patients treated in real life settings (AMBER study - interim analysis

Editor's Note:  Read our Fact Sheet HCV in Japan:   click here: 

AbbVie's VIEKIRAX® (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir tablets) Receives Approval in Japan for the Treatment of Genotype 1 Chronic Hepatitis C

  • New interferon and ribavirin-free treatment option for patients with most common type of hepatitis in Japan, genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C, including those with compensated cirrhosis[1]
  • VIEKIRAX consists of a 12-week, two direct-acting antiviral, fixed-dose combination of paritaprevir/ritonavir with ombitasvir, dosed once daily[1]
  • Approximately 1.5 to 2 million people are living with hepatitis C in Japan, one of the highest rates of hepatitis C infection in the industrialized world[2],[3]
NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., Sept. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a global biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) approved VIEKIRAX® (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir), as a new interferon and ribavirin-free treatment option for adult patients with chronic genotype 1 (GT1) hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, including those with compensated liver cirrhosis.1 VIEKIRAX consists of a 12-week, two direct-acting antiviral, fixed-dose combination of paritaprevir/ritonavir with ombitasvir, dosed once daily.

"Today's approval represents an important step forward for the treatment of Japanese patients, a population with specific needs based on patient and viral characteristics," said Jean-Michel Pawlotsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Paris-Est, France. "VIEKIRAX is a valuable new addition to a number of treatments that are changing the face of hepatitis C, making it possible to achieve high virologic cure rates, even in patients whose disease has progressed to compensated liver cirrhosis."

Japan has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C infection in the industrialized world, with approximately 1.5 to 2 million people living with HCV.2, 3 Genotype 1 is the most common HCV genotype in Japan with 60 to 70 percent of patients infected and, of those, about 95 percent are infected with the genotype 1b (GT1b) sub-type.4

"We are pleased to provide VIEKIRAX as a new treatment that offers a high probability of virologic cure for GT1b HCV patients and are working to support access to our treatment in Japan," said Michael Severino, M.D., executive vice president, research and development and chief scientific officer, AbbVie. "We are also prioritizing disease education and awareness by collaborating with stakeholders to identify and address the diverse challenges across Japan, such as supporting screening and diagnosis initiatives, and providing accurate information to the medical community about treatment options."

The approval is supported by the Phase 3 GIFT-I study.1 An overall 95 percent (n=140/148) of treatment-naïve and 94 percent (n=102/109) of treatment-experienced GT1b HCV infected patients achieved SVR12 with VIEKIRAX.1

The primary endpoint was achieved, demonstrating 95 percent (n=106/112) SVR12 in a sub-group of treatment-naïve, non-cirrhotic, adult GT1b HCV infected Japanese patients who were eligible for therapy with interferon (IFN) and had a high viral load. A secondary endpoint in GT1b HCV patients with compensated cirrhosis achieved 91 percent (n=38/42) SVR12.5

Across all treatment arms three patients (n=3/363) experienced on-treatment virologic failure, eight patients (n=8/354) experienced post-treatment relapse and three patients discontinued treatment due to adverse events. The most commonly reported adverse events (>5 percent in any arm) were nasopharyngitis, headache, peripheral edema, nausea, pyrexia and decreased platelet count.5 In April 2015, AbbVie was granted priority review by the MHLW for VIEKIRAX, on the basis of clinical usefulness of the treatment and recognizing the severity and unmet need of the disease in Japan.

About the GIFT-I Study5

GIFT-I comprises 363 patients in two sub-studies.

In sub-study 1, 321 genotype 1b (GT1b) patients without cirrhosis, both treatment-naïve and interferon (IFN) [with or without ribavirin (RBV)] treatment-experienced, were randomized to receive either ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir (Arm A) [OBV/PTV/r] or placebo (Arm B) [2:1 randomization ratio, stratified by treatment history, past response, viral load and IFN eligibility]. Patients initially randomized to placebo (Arm B) then received OBV/PTV/r for an additional 12 weeks of open-label treatment. Sustained virologic response was assessed 12 weeks post-treatment (SVR12) as a primary efficacy endpoint in a sub-group of previously untreated, non-cirrhotic GT1b patients who were eligible for therapy with IFN and had a high viral load, defined as an HCV RNA level ≥ 100,000 IU/mL and received at least one dose of the double-blind, active study drug.

In sub-study 2, 42 GT1b treatment-naïve and IFN (with or without RBV) treatment-experienced patients with compensated cirrhosis received open-label treatment for 12 weeks (Arm C) with SVR12 and assessed as a secondary efficacy endpoint.

One patient from each arm (n=3/363) experienced on-treatment virologic failure [Arm A, 0.5% (n=1/215); Arm B, 0.9% (n=1/106); Arm C, 2.4% (n=1/42)]. Across all arms, eight patients (n=8/354) experienced post-treatment relapse [Arm A, 2.4% (n=5/209); Arm B, 1.0% (n=1/105); Arm C, 5.0% (n=2/40)].

AbbVie studied its two direct-acting antiviral treatment regimen without RBV in Japan due to patient and viral characteristics specific to the Japanese population, including high prevalence of GT1b.

About VIEKIRAX in Japan

Indication in Japan

VIEKIRAX is indicated for the improvement of viremia in chronic hepatitis C or compensated hepatic cirrhosis C in patients of serogroup 1 (genotype 1).

Summary of Safety Information


VIEKIRAX is contraindicated in patients with a history of known hypersensitivity to an ingredient in VIEKIRAX, patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh C) or patients being treated with the following drugs: azelnidipine, triazolam, iv midazolam, blonanserin, pimozide, ergotamine tartrate, dihydroergotamine mesilate, ergometrine maleate, methylergometrine maleate, sildenafil citrate [Revatio], tadalafil [Adcirca], rivaroxaban, vardenafil hydrochloride hydrate, riociguat, simvastatin, atorvastatin calcium hydrate, carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, rifampin, efavirenz, foods containing St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), ethinyl estradiol-containing medicinal products.

Precautions for Use

Positive result for HCV RNA should be confirmed before administering VIEKIRAX and decompensated cirrhosis should be excluded.

When VIEKIRAX is used for patients co-infected with HIV/HCV, administer VIEKIRAX only to patients whose virological suppression has been achieved by anti-HIV therapy as ritonavir may cause resistance against a HIV protease inhibitor.

During the administration of VIEKIRAX, perform liver function tests regularly because hepatic function disorder may occur.

Co-administration of VIEKIRAX with drugs that are substrates of CYP3A4, P-gp, BCRP, OATP1B1 or OATP1B3 may result in increased plasma concentrations of such drugs, potentially requiring dose adjustment or clinical monitoring.

The safety of VIEKIRAX in pregnant women has not been established. VIEKIRAX should be used in pregnant women and women who may possibly be pregnant only if the expected therapeutic benefits outweigh the possible risks associated with treatment.

Do not administer VIEKIRAX to nursing mothers. If VIEKIRAX is administered to a nursing mother by necessity, breast feeding must be discontinued during treatment.

Safety and effectiveness have not been established in children.

Adverse Reactions

Major adverse reactions included peripheral edema in 15 subjects (4.1%), headache in 12 subjects (3.3%) and nausea in 10 subjects (2.8%)

About AbbVie's HCV Clinical Development Program in Japan

AbbVie's HCV clinical development program in Japan focuses on our two direct-acting antiviral treatment and is designed with the goal of achieving high SVR rates in chronic HCV infected patients, including additional genotypes and patients with compensated cirrhosis.

Paritaprevir was discovered during the ongoing collaboration between AbbVie and Enanta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ENTA) for HCV protease inhibitors and regimens that include protease inhibitors. Paritaprevir has been developed by AbbVie for use in combination with AbbVie's other investigational medicines for the treatment of hepatitis C.

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 following separation from Abbott Laboratories. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to develop and market advanced therapies that address some of the world's most complex and serious diseases. Together with its wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmacyclics, AbbVie employs more than 28,000 people worldwide and markets medicines in more than 170 countries. For further information on the company and its people, portfolio and commitments, please visit www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter or view careers on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.

Forward-Looking Statements

Some statements in this news release may be forward-looking statements for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project" and similar expressions, among others, generally identify forward-looking statements. AbbVie cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, challenges to intellectual property, competition from other products, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, and changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry.

Additional information about the economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect AbbVie's operations is set forth in Item 1A, "Risk Factors," in AbbVie's 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AbbVie undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.

1 VIEKIRAX [package insert]. Tokyo, Japan: AbbVie Ltd; 2015.
2 Kohnodai Hospital. National Center for Global Health and Medicine [cited 20 February 2013]. Available from: http://www.ncgm.go.jp/center/forpatient_hcv.html
3 Gower, E.  Global epidemiology and genotype distribution of the hepatitis C virus infection. Journal of Hepatology 2014; 61: S45-S57, Table 2. 
4 Hajarizadeh B et al. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2013; 10: 553-562. Available from: http://www.nature.com/nrgastro/journal/v10/n9/fig_tab/nrgastro.2013.107_F1.html
5 Kumada H, et al. Randomized phase 3 trial of ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir for hepatitis C virus genotype 1b-infected Japanese patients with or without cirrhosis. Hepatology. 2015 Jul 3. doi: 10.1002/hep.27972.


For further information: Media: Judy Low, +65 9880 2604, judy.low@abbvie.com; or Jane Woo, +1 (847) 937-4754, jane.woo@abbvie.com; or Investor Relations: Liz Shea, +1 (847) 935-2211, liz.shea@abbvie.com

Friday, September 25, 2015

One senator's push to fund hepatitis C treatment for veterans

Many veterans who fought to protect and defend our country are still fighting to get the support they need from the federal government. Fortunately, help may be on the way for veterans living with hepatitis C, one of the greatest threats facing former servicemen and women.

Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee followed the lead of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and approved a budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that included an additional $200 million to fund critical hepatitis C treatments for a total of more than $1.5 billion for hepatitis C over the next two years. The measure is now on its way to the full Senate for a final vote. This means that Kirk's pathway to securing these needed treatments for the veterans community may come in contact with federal budget cap debates and be blocked as the next federal fiscal year approaches. It will make a big difference if veterans of all generations contact their members of Congress to insist that veterans' healthcare priorities must be left untouched during spending debates. Veterans have sacrificed enough — especially those living with hepatitis C — than to have to stand by while Congress fights about the numbers.

While hepatitis C has reached epidemic levels nationwide, the veterans community has a hepatitis C infection rate that is nearly double the national average. For veterans, this deadly, blood-borne disease is a leading cause of liver failure, catastrophic liver damage and liver cancer. It impacts veterans disproportionately due to a variety of factors, including battlefield blood exposure, emergency transfusions and mandatory vaccinations in the era before hepatitis C testing became common.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Hepatitis C Workshop Set

ALAMOSA — Hepatitis C is an infectious (contagious) liver disease that spreads through blood-to-blood contact with an infected person.

Andres Guerrero with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Chris Grano with Hep C Connection in Denver will present the workshop ”Hep C- What you need to Know” on Thursday, October 8, in Alamosa.

The workshop will be held at SLV Heath Education Center at 1919 Main St. in Alamosa. Two times for the same program are available — 3:30–5 p.m. and 7– 8:30 p.m.

Hep C testing will be available at no charge for people who use injection drugs, were born between 1945 and 1965, had sex partners who are Hep C positive, had tattoos in prison or jail and/or had blood products or tissue before 1992. Testing is available for those who qualify with the above criteria through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment from 1– 2:30 p.m. October 8th at the SLV Heath Education Center at 1919 Main St. in Alamosa. No appointment is needed for testing and spaces are limited.

Call the SLV AHEC at 589-4977 for further information or to register by October 6.

Read more....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Managing Hepatitis C: Advances in treatment & evaluation

Improvements to the efficacy and side effects of hepatitis C medications have simplified the disease management calculus, tipping the scales towards treatment.

The availability of effective oral medication has also raised the bar for clinicians: is there a way to make similar progress in the evaluation side? What would it take to stage the disease quickly, safely, and without discomfort for the patient?

The stiffness of the patient's liver tissue, categorized at a certain stiffness as "fibrosis," provides hepatologists important diagnostic information about the extent and stage of hepatitis C. Liver biopsy has long been the gold standard for obtaining this information. However, biopsies are time-consuming invasive procedures that routinely cause patients pain and, in some rare instances, lead to greater complications such as internal bleeding. These procedures take up clinical staff time, necessitate bed space, and incur instrument and room sterilization costs. Lastly, they are subject to not insignificant sampling limitations, as each biopsy takes only a small sample from a large organ.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Hepatitis C

Since 2007, more people have died every year from hepatitis C than from HIV. Fortunately, the latest hepatitis C medications can cure nearly everyone in a relatively quick, easy fashion. So, if it is so easy to cure hepatitis C, why haven't we?

Ostensibly, it is because of the cost. At $1125 a pill for Gilead Sciences' drug Harvoni, a 12-week course of hepatitis C treatment would amount to $94,500. Trying to manage these costs, many state Medicaid programs and insurance companies have severely restricted access to treatment. You save money if you deny treatment to people, and dead people cost nothing.

This means that although we can cure hepatitis C, we aren't. Under many insurance plans, patients have to prove that they have cirrhosis. In short, treatment is approved when liver damage has progressed to its worst stage. It is like refusing to pay for diabetes drugs until the patient is blind or minus a few toes.

Read more....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Women Living with HIV Face Higher Rates of Cancer Diagnosis: Study

Vancouver, BC [September 15, 2015] Due to the introduction of modern highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), people living with HIV are now much less likely to develop AIDS-related cancers, which were characteristic of the epidemic in the 1980s. However, a new study published in HIV Medicine shows women living with HIV still have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with certain cancers, when compared with the general population.

While rates of AIDS-defining malignancies may be decreasing over time, there has been an observed increase in non-AIDS defining malignancies among women living with HIV compared to the general population. This trend primarily involves cancers with underlying infectious causes such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis.

“This research suggests chronic inflammation, immune-suppression, aging and viral infections may be contributing to the cancer risk,” said Dr. Robert Hogg, Senior Research Scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) and Professor at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Hogg is the thesis supervisor for Kate Salters, the study’s main author. “The study highlights the importance of ongoing access to HIV care and cancer screening practices that are specific to the risks facing women living with HIV. With sustained treatment, women with HIV are now able to live longer, healthier lives – making it increasingly important to address emerging health needs.”

Read more....

Sunday, September 13, 2015

8 simple ways for Hispanics to stay healthy

Many of these examples could be applied to people living with hepatitis C (AF)

In May, the first national study on Hispanics and their health was released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The surprising results showed that Hispanics are generally healthier and have a longer life expectancy than non-Hispanic whites, though we do have some areas to grow in.

"Although Hispanics have lower overall drinking rates compared with white non-Hispanics, when they do drink, on average they have higher rates of binge drinking," says Dr. Ken Dominguez, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC and lead author of the report. More surprising news? The study revealed that Hispanics are affected specifically by certain conditions, with high rates of obesity and diabetes contributing to the two leading causes of death: cancer and heart disease.

That may sound alarming, but the study provides ways to target the health risks — some of them symptomless, some of them woven into the festive fabric of our culture — that we face. After all, knowledge is power. "Being Hispanic does not have to determine your quality of life," says Dominguez, who advises us to "take charge of your own health, practice healthy behaviors."

Read more.....