According to recent reports, an estimated 3 to 4 million Americans are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and about half of these people are unaware of their status. These patients can progress to advanced liver disease and/or hepatocellular cancer. With early treatment, however, these outcomes can be prevented, and therapies for HCV are rapidly emerging and improving. With more treatment options becoming available, clinicians can potentially cure more patients than what has been previously possible.
Several new direct-acting oral agents for HCV have been recently approved for use in the United States. The initial direct-acting agents were approved in 2011, and more oral agents are expecting approval within the next few years. “These treatments have the potential to cure most patients with HCV, but the rapid pace of drug development has left healthcare providers unsure about optimal treatments,” says David L. Thomas, MD, MPH. “We need credible resources with unbiased guidance on how best to treat patients with HCV.”
A Helpful New ResourceIn 2014, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), in collaboration with the International Antiviral Society-USA (IAS-USA), launched HCVguidelines.org, a website that provides up-to-date guidance for the treatment of HCV. The collaboration is the result of ongoing work from the AASLD, IDSA, and IAS-USA. A panel of 26 liver disease and infectious diseases specialists and a patient advocate developed evidenced-based, consensus recommendations for screening, treating, and managing HCV.
HCVguidelines.org has been made available to any healthcare provider who treats the disease and for others who need updated information on best practices. “The recommendations on HCVguidelines.org can benefit those who test for HCV as well as those who treat the infection,” adds Dr. Thomas. He notes that a handheld app is one of the most important features from HCVguidelines.org. The app allows for easy access to the most current information on HCV treatments.
Regular updates will be made to HCVguidelines.org as new information becomes available. These updates will ensure that clinicians keep pace with improved diagnostic tools and new drug options as they are approved by the FDA. The guidance provided through the site can assist clinicians in using both current and new treatments. New sections will be added when needed, and an ongoing summary of recent changes will be available for readers who wish to be directed to this information. “The presence of a readily available, frequently updated guidance document is a great service to providers,” Dr. Thomas says. “This website comes at a critical time as more patients will seek HCV treatments that have the potential to effectively cure them of this infection.”