July 28, 2014
Given the advent of effective new treatments, hepatitis C was a major topic at the 20th International AIDS Conference held last week in Melbourne, Australia.
An estimated 150 to 200 million people worldwide are living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and roughly 7 million are HIV/HCV coinfected, researcher Mark Sulkowski from Johns Hopkins said at a media briefing. "It's a huge global problem that we haven't really even touched."
HIV/HCV coinfected people experience more rapid liver disease progression than people with hepatitis C alone and do not respond as well to interferon-based therapy. But new direct-acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) that target different steps of the HCV lifecycle offer the prospect of shorter treatment, fewer side effects, and higher cure rates.
An oral abstract session focused on studies of new therapies for coinfected people (described below), but the subject of hepatitis C arose often throughout the conference as participants discussed access to treatment as part of the overall theme of "Stepping Up the Pace."
At the opening session on July 20, and again at the closing, conference co-chair and outgoing International AIDS Society president Francoise Barré-Sinoussi emphasized that the hepatitis C treatment revolution "has the potential to completely change the global landscape in this area."
But to make that happen, clinicians, patients, and advocates need to exert the same kind of pressure that led to expanded global access to HIV treatment. "Let's use the experience gained in HIV to reduce HCV treatment cost and make universal access a dream come true for the 150 million people with hepatitis C," she said.
This excerpt was cross-posted with the permission of BETAblog.org. Read the full article.
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