Hepatitis C virus continues to affect millions of people worldwide. WHO estimates that 71 million people are living with chronic HCV infection, and about 399,000 people die from complications of the virus each year, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Although antiviral medications can cure more than 95% of patients with HCV, WHO reports that access to diagnosis and treatment is low. In 2015, only 20% of the 71 million people living with HCV knew their diagnosis, and just 7.4% of those diagnosed initiated treatment. An additional 1.76 million patients were started on treatment in 2016; however, more efforts are needed to reach WHO’s 80% treatment target by 2030.
For more information, Infectious Disease News compiled a list of the top five stories on HCV over the past year:
Report raises questions about long-term effects of DAAs for HCV
Researchers raised questions about the long-term safety of direct-acting antivirals for HCV infection after an analysis of FDA data uncovered more than 500 reports of liver failure and more than 1,000 reports of severe liver injury related to the drugs over one recent 12-month period. Read more.
The changing HCV treatment cascade
In this Pharmacology Consult, Jocelyn Mason, PharmD, and Kimberly Boeser, PharmD, MPH, BCPS AQ-ID, review the evolution of HCV therapy.
“The understanding of HCV and the treatment cascade has come a long way since its discovery almost 30 years ago,” they wrote. “The diagnosis and treatment of this disease will lead to billions of associated health care dollars; however, the current and future treatment strategies are promising cure.” Read more.
Sharing injection paraphernalia does not lead to HCV transmission
Study findings suggest that sharing paraphernalia used to cook and prepare injection drugs does not directly lead to transmission of HCV.
According to Robert Heimer, PhD, professor of epidemiology and pharmacology at the Yale School of Public Health, and colleagues, this contrasts with past epidemiological studies that reported HCV incidence linked to sharing “cookers” and filters. Read more.
Women injecting drugs at higher risk for HCV than men
Women who inject drugs are about 39% more likely to become infected with hepatitis C virus than men who inject drugs, research suggests.
“Our findings provide important evidence that sex disparities in HCV acquisition exist independent of selected behavioral risk and demographic factors,” researcher Kimberly Page, PhD, MPH, division chief of the department of internal medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, and colleagues wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases. “When considering HCV risk differential among women, multiple factors including biological, social and network factors — as well as differential access to prevention services — need to be considered.” Read more.
IDSA, AASLD critical of Cochrane review of HCV drugs
In July, members of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases issued a strongly worded rebuke of a Cochrane review of drugs for HCV treatment. The authors cited what they considered to be flaws in the review and bluntly suggested that it could undermine efforts to eliminate HCV. Read more.