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Eliminating Screening Barriers for HCV

Eliminating Screening Barriers for HCV

Approximately 3.9 million Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), making it the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, according to the CDC. If left untreated, HCV can result in serious organ damage to the liver and kidneys as well as premature death. On average, HCV patients die 20 years earlier than those without the infection. Research shows that HCV symptoms often do not manifest for decades and patient awareness of their infection status is low. Despite recent advances in therapeutics, diagnostic assessments, technology and public health policy for HCV, research suggests that a substantial number of people remain undiagnosed and untreated. Facilitating access to new therapies is paramount to making progress in the fight against HCV. Many stakeholders are working to develop solutions to address the cost of direct-acting antiviral agents, but access to therapy is just one of the barriers to reducing disease incidence. One of the most important barriers in care involves the quality of screening and diagnosis. Published guidelines from the CDC and United States Task Force for Preventive Services have helped guide clinicians on who should be screened, including baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965, and how to screen them. Unfortunately, screening often involves a two-step approach to testing. When patients receive a positive antibody screen, they may need to return for a subsequent doctor’s visit and blood draw to produce a specimen on which to perform a molecular test to confirm active infection. Studies indicate that as many as 60% of patients who receive a positive antibody screening test for hepatitis C in the U.S. do...
World Hepatitis Day 2012 Message Underscores Pervasive Infection

World Hepatitis Day 2012 Message Underscores Pervasive Infection

“It’s closer than you think” is the theme for World Hepatitis Day 2012, which falls on July 28. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 3 people globally has been infected with hepatitis, with 1 in 12 chronically infected. This year’s campaign focuses on raising awareness of the different forms of hepatitis: what they are and how they are transmitted; who is at risk; and the various methods of prevention and treatment. Visit the WHO website for more information about World Hepatitis Day as well as hepatitis fact sheets and...
Updating Hepatocellular Carcinoma Trends

Updating Hepatocellular Carcinoma Trends

The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the United States has historically been lower than that of other countries, but studies have shown that rates of the disease have increased substantially in recent decades. In addition, primary liver cancer mortality rates have increased faster than mortality rates for any other leading cause of cancer. “It’s important for clinicians to learn about the changing epidemiology of malignancies because this information directly impacts patient care,” says Jennifer C. Obel, MD. Several treatment options are available for patients with early-stage HCC, including resection, transplantation, and liver-directed therapies like chemoembolization (in well-selected patients with localized HCC). However, many patients who are diagnosed with HCC have advanced disease and are only candidates for palliative therapies. “Most HCC is thought to be associated with either chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection,” Dr. Obel says. “In the U.S., more than 3 million people are chronically infected with HCV. Chronic infection with HBV is less common overall, but more common among certain ethnic groups.” HCC typically develops in patients with underlying cirrhosis. Commonly reported risk factors for cirrhosis include alcohol-induced liver disease, HCV and HBV infection, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Assessing Incidence & Survival In the March 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at the National Cancer Institute examined trends in HCC from 1975 to 2005. The report found that the incidence of HCC tripled in the United States during this time period. Between 2000 and 2005, liver cancer rates increased significantly among African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian men between the ages of 50 and 59 (Table 1). The...
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