New drug therapy cures hepatitis C in patients with HIV: Study

New drug therapy cures hepatitis C in patients with HIV

Scientists have revealed that a combination drug therapy cures chronic hepatitis C in the majority of patients co-infected with both HIV and hepatitis C.

In a phase III clinical trial, doctors administered ‘sofosbuvir’ and ‘ribavirin’ to a total of 223 HIV-1 patients chronically co-infected with hepatitis C (genotypes 1, 2 or 3) either for 12 weeks (for treatment-naive patients with genotype 2 or 3) or for 24 weeks (for treatment-naive patents with genotype 1 or treatment-experienced patents with genotype 2 or 3).

It was found that for treatment-naive patients, 76 percent with genotype 1, 88 percent with genotype 2 and 67 percent with genotype 3 were cured.

Researchers said that have always termed this to be ‘sustained virologic response but they now know that means hepatitis C has been cured.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source: dna

Nearly 3 Million Americans Living With Hepatitis C

More than 2.7 million Americans are currently infected with liver-damaging hepatitis C, federal officials say, and one expert believes that number could be even higher.

These individuals are at much higher risk for liver disease, liver cancer and other chronic health issues, experts note. And although there are treatments available that can rid the body of the virus, many Americans remain unaware that they are even infected, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The long-term consequences of not diagnosing and treating hepatitis C are dire: Experts say more people in the United States now die from infection with hepatitis C than from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The new survey of U.S. households, which took place between 2003 and 2010, found the number of people living with hepatitis C has actually fallen by 500,000 since 2000. The researchers cautioned, however, that the number might only be the result of more people in an aging population dying from the infection.

In addition to estimating how many people in the United States are living with hepatitis C, the researchers also investigated risk factors for the virus. The risk factors they identified are the same as those identified in previous years, including intravenous drug use and receiving a blood transfusion before 1992.

One expert said the CDC survey might be missing even more infected people, however.

“Millions of U.S. residents are infected with chronic hepatitis C,” said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. “[But] our methods of estimating the true prevalence of the disease is flawed. All [federal government] reports underestimate the true prevalence of hepatitis C infection as they do not include the homeless or the incarcerated — two large populations with a high prevalence of hepatitis C infection.”

The survey, published March 3 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, also showed that only about half of those infected with hepatitis C reported having one of the major risk factors for infection. So screening patients based only on their transfusion history or intravenous drug use might not help spot those living with the condition, the researchers said.

Because Baby Boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C, the CDC now recommends one-time screening for those born between 1945 and 1965.

In the meantime, the advent of powerful new medications that can rid the body of hepatitis C gives room for optimism, another expert said.

“There is an ongoing, exciting sea change in the management of hepatitis C,” said Dr. Peter Malet, director of the Center for Liver Diseases at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. “Two new oral medications — sofosbuvir and simeprevir — were recently approved for treatment and several more are expected to be approved in 2015.”

“With expanded identification of patients with hepatitis C and easier to tolerate, more effective treatment, the illness and death from chronic hepatitis C can be sharply curtailed in the near future,” Malet said.

Source: webmd

Hepatitis C: All that you need to know about the silent killer

Hepatitis is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Its severity ranges from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious lifelong sickness. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus, and more than 350,000 people die yearly from hepatitis C-related liver diseases.

How Hepatitis C spreads?

Of the several hepatitis viruses, hepatitis C is believed to be among the most serious. Hepatitis C is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can also be contracted through:

  1. Sharing drugs and needles
  2. Having unprotected sex with an infected person
  3. From mother to baby during child birth

What are the signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Generally, hepatitis C shows no signs and symptoms during initial stages. If signs and symptoms do
happen, they may include:





Abdominal pain

Loss of appetite

Joint pain and jaundice

How can it be treated?

While hepatitis C can be treated using antiviral medicines, treatment is not always essential. Before
undertaking any treatment, careful screening is vital for the patients to find out the most appropriate

Interferon and ribavirin are used to treat Hepatitis C. Owing to scientific advancement, new antiviral
drugs for hepatitis C have been developed, which may be more effective and better tolerated than
existing therapies. As per the WHO, two new therapeutic agents — telaprevir and boceprevir — have
recently been licensed in some countries.

Can Hepatitis C be prevented?

Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C. But, the risk of infection can be reduced by following a
few tips:

Avoid sharing personal care items like razors

Be cautious if you are getting a tattoo or body piercing, check if the apparatus being used is clean

Avoid having sex with hepatitis C-infected person or use a latex condom every time you have sex

Avoid sharing needles

If you are infected with hepatitis C virus, avoid spreading it by not donating blood or tissue.

Source: healcon

FDA approves new treatment for hepatitis C virus

New drug is part of a revolution in treatment for a virus widespread among Baby Boomers, experts say.A new medication for chronic hepatitis C that can be paired with other drugs to make treatment of the liver-damaging disease faster, easier and more effective got approval from the Food and Drug Administration Friday.

The new medication, called sofosbuvir and made by Gilead Sciences Inc., is part of a “revolution in treatment,” says Douglas Dieterich, a specialist in liver disease at Mt. Sinai Hospital, New York. Dieterich is a consultant to Gilead and other drug companies.

“The upshot is that over the next year to the next 18 months there will be a series of medications approved that will vastly simplify the treatment of hepatitis C for nearly everyone and increase the cure rate beyond 90%,” says David Thomas, a liver specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore. Thomas says he has no current financial ties to drug makers.

More than 3 million people in the USA are infected with the hepatitis C virus, the nation’s leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. Most have no symptoms until their livers start to fail, causing jaundice, fatigue and other problems. Up until now, standard three-drug treatments have taken 24 to 48 weeks and required self-injections of interferon, an immune therapy that can cause difficult-to-tolerate flu-like symptoms and mood swings.

Sofosbuvir, which has the brand name Sovaldi, will be the first treatment that some patients will be able to take for just 12 weeks with just one additional drug and no interferon. The FDA approved the no-interferon combination for patients with two strains of the virus, known as genotypes 2 and 3. For most patients with a more common strain, genotype 1, sofosbuvir is approved to be taken with interferon and an older drug called ribavirin. Some patients still will have to be treated for 24 weeks.

None of the regimens are 100% effective. But in one study, 89% of genotype 1 patients who took the three-drug version were cured in 12 weeks, compared with 75% cured in longer-lasting available regimens, says Ira Jacobson, a liver specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, who has led drug studies for Gilead.

Sofosbuvir does not add any obvious side effects to those already associated with the drugs it is paired with, he says. So patients taking it with ribavirin may experience fatigue and insomnia and those who also take interferon will have additional side effects, but for a shorter time than in the past, he says

The wholesale cost for a one-month supply of Solvadi will be $28,000, Gilead said in a press release.

Therapies will continue to evolve. For example, some doctors may decide, based on recent studies, to treat some type 1 patients with an interferon-free cocktail of sofosbuvir and another antiviral medication called simeprevir, Dieterich says. FDA approved simeprevir, made by Janssen Therapeutics, in late November, but has not approved the two drugs in combination. Such “off-label” use is legal, but it’s not clear insurers will pay for it, Thomas says.

Doctors also may put off treating some patients with milder illnesses until additional combinations, including one-pill versions, are approved. That’s the “holy grail” of treatment, Jacobson says.

Two medical groups, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, will publish new online treatment guidelines in January to help doctors make decisions in the rapidly evolving field, Thomas says. He is co-chairing the guideline committee.

Hepatitis C is one of several viruses that can cause liver damage. Vaccines can prevent hepatitis A and B but not C. The virus infects about 16,000 people a year and 75% to 80% develop chronic infections, according to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most then develop chronic liver disease and up to 5% die of cancer or cirrhosis.

The virus spreads through blood, most often through shared drug needles, accidental needle sticks and birth. But transmission through sex and through unsanitary tattooing and piercing is possible, CDC says. Because the infection is most common in Baby Boomers, CDC recommends that everyone born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for it

The availability of safe, effective treatment makes it more urgent for people to get tested, Thomas says. Many picked up the virus through youthful drug use, medical mishaps or sex many decades ago and half of those who are infected don’t know it, he says. “We want to find the people who have it so we can give them the treatments and help them.”

More are likely to choose and stick with quicker, easier therapies, Dieterich says. “One of my patients told me that taking interferon was like 48 weeks of having PMS with a cold,” he says. Dieterich says he once had hepatitis C, caused by a needle-stick, and suffered through many months of interferon treatment for it in the late 1990s. It worked, he says, but “it was bad.”

Source: USA today