Hepatitis C: A Complete Guide for Patients and Families
Thuluvath, MD, FRCP
John Hopkins University Press
Expiration Date: 12/31/2020
Hepatitis C affects between three and four million people in the United States. Many people with hepatitis C infection have not been diagnosed and remain unaware that they have the disease.
Despite the progress made in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C over the last 25 years, successful treatment of the disease remains a major challenge. Most people with the disease have not been diagnosed, and many medical professionals and the public are often only partially educated about the disease. Although the internet can provide valuable information to individuals about hepatitis C quickly and inexpensively, some of this information may be unreliable and purely anecdotal.
When a hepatitis C infection goes undiagnosed, it progresses to cirrhosis in approximately one-third of infected individuals, and liver transplantation may become the only option to cure the disease. Yet because of organ shortages, timely liver transplantation may become difficult to impossible for most people. Hepatitis C is believed to be one of the leading causes of liver cancer, and an increasing number of people with HIV infections are also infected with hepatitis C. It has been suggested that in HIV-positive populations, hepatitis C may emerge as a major killer, negating some of the advances achieved in the treatments of HIV.
Until recently, the side effects of interferon used in the treatment of hepatitis C prevented effective treatment of this disease in many patients who sought treatment for the disease. However, the introduction of many direct-acting oral medications for treatment of hepatitis C has greatly improved the cure rates for this disease. As of the end of 2014, interferon-free treatment has become the standard treatment for hepatitis C in the United States. A combination of two or three direct-acting acting antiviral medications take for 8-24 weeks will cure more than 95% of people who have hepatitis C.
Despite these advances in treatment, many limitations remain. The high cost of treatment remains prohibitive for many people with hepatitis C. The treatment regimen needs to be further refined to safely offer the drugs to children and people who have advanced cirrhosis and kidney failure. The search for a hepatitis C vaccine remains elusive despite ongoing research.
This book documents the current state of knowledge about hepatitis C. The author answers questions about hepatitis C including the spread of this disease, who should be tested and what tests are used for diagnosis, signs and symptoms of acute and chronic liver disease, complications of cirrhosis, the effect of hepatitis C on other organs, treatment options and side effects, and liver cancer.
The author states that this book is intended as a source of information for everyone with hepatitis C, as well as for those involved in the care of patients with hepatitis C. The language is simple and straightforward as it is intended for the general public, as well as for healthcare providers looking for current information on hepatitis C. The level is basic.