New Antivirals, Enhanced Screening Could Eliminate HCV in the U.S., Say Researchers

An analysis by Yale has found that new direct-acting antiviral therapies for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) could significantly reduce the prevalence of the blood-borne infection by more than 80%. Published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study sheds light on recently approved antiviral medications, asserting that these new therapies have transformed treatment for individuals with hepatitis C, and are effective in over 90% of cases.

Yale’s researchers boldly claim that HCV could be eliminated from the non-injecting public within a decade with the aid of advanced screening for high-risk individuals. Even modest increases in screenings could limit the number of new infections, say the authors.

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However, the studies authors point out that users of injection-drugs are still the most at risk HCV group. A greater number of screenings alone among this group would not be enough to reduce the level of HCV infections. What is recommended for this group is an amalgamation of the new therapies with behavioral changes. This would include the use of needle exchanges programs or opioid substitution therapy.

“In order to completely eliminate HCV, efforts to access that community [injection drug users] are extremely important,” said David Durham, lead author of the study. Jeffery Townsend, a senior author of the study added, “We should be very optimistic about the prospect of eliminating HCV as a disease within the U.S. using these direct acting antivirals, especially if they are combined with targeted behavioral interventions to reduce transmission.”

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