Only a few years ago hepatitis C was a dreaded incurable disease whose victims led long-suffering lives until they died. They often succumbed to liver failure, cirrhosis, liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and were in the need of a liver transplant. Successful drug trials were run in 2013 and today there are several drug cures on the market.
In the past, the drugs one needed to stay alive had unpleasant side effects that made daily life miserable. Now a common cure takes as little as 8 - 12 weeks and is successful in 90% - 100% of cases.
These new drugs are direct-acting antivirals, called DDAs. They target hepatitis C, which is spread through blood to blood contact. A number of DDAs have been approved by the FDA and a few of them fight all six genotypes of hepatitis C which simplifies treatment.
A person with hepatitis C will have few symptoms at first, but if untreated, may develop swollen legs and abdomen, internal bleeding, gallstones, enlarged spleen, type 2 diabetes, kidney failure and lung failure. They may also struggle to fight off infections with a compromised immune system.
Hepatitis C is contracted through blood to blood contact. Today up to 80% of hepatitis C infections will be caused by the sharing of hypodermic needles. Before 1990, hepatitis C was mostly transferred via a blood transfusion. As of 1990, a screening test for blood went into effect.
Less common ways to contract the infection is to work around blood or needles. Doctors, nurses and laboratory workers must exercise caution. Improperly cleaned medical equipment can also cause contractions in patients such as those receiving dialysis.
Additionally, individuals with a risky sex life may also get infected. Those who get body piercings, tattoos or even a manicure or pedicure should ensure that tools are sterile.
As usual, the downside of any miracle in modern medicine is the cost. Since there are a variety of cure regimens, some may cost almost $100,000. Yet, many people are willing to pay any amount to regain their quality of life or even just to remain alive.
- The Latest in Hepatitis C Treatments, webmd,com
- Regine Boyle Wheeler, Can Hp C BE Cured?, webmd.com