What is Hepatitis C?
Approximately 17 million people in the U.S. are living with Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with blood from a person with HCV. The most common mode of transmission is through sharing of needles and syringes by injection drug users. A less common mode of transmission but still possible is through sex. Hepatitis C is a virus that causes inflammation to the liver. Symptoms of HCV include jaundice, nausea and vomiting, adnominal pain, dark urine and fatigue. However most people with HCV do not have any symptoms, which is why it is important to get tested regularly.
Prior to 2014 the available treatments for HCV were not very effective or tolerable. Currently HCV patients have multiple treatment options with minimal to no side effects and have at least a 95% cure rate. Let that sink in…95% CURE rate! This is exciting!
With the recent advancements in HCV treatments patients can cure their HCV within 12 weeks by taking one pill once a day. In the last ten years, the treatment of HCV has gone from abysmal to amazing. Just five years ago, most HCV patients were not able to complete HCV treatment due to the terrible side effects and, if somehow they did fight through the side effects and complete treatment, they faced only a 50% chance of curing their disease. Now, HCV patients have multiple drug options to choose from and each option comes with a 95% cure rate.
In the last 3 years, PHNTX has treated over 100 co-infected HIV/HCV patients with the new HCV therapy. HCV treatment does come with a large price tag (upwards of $80,000). The cost is a barrier for many. The good news is that many pharmaceutical companies have cost assistance programs for your first Hep C infection. (It is possible to become re-infected with Hep C.) Prescription assistance –if one qualifies – is available to PHNTX patients at either the Oak Cliff of South Dallas health centers.
Once the patient is approved to begin treatment, the requested medication is shipped to the health center, and dispensed to the patient. The patient returns to the office after 4 weeks for a blood test to confirm treatment is working. Overall, the treatment is 12 weeks.
The expansion in care and treatment for Hepatitis C is incredible. The future and potential for Hepatitis C eradication is possible.