Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne viral infection in the United States and affects more than four million people. It can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. But a new era of hepatitis C drugs could mean a whole new outlook for millions of people.
For Linda Cornwall gardening is a release. But she never would have imagined a virus taking root inside of her. She was diagnosed with hepatitis C.
“I was shocked to say the least,” she said.
The standard treatment is injections of interferon. But it can lead to severe anemia and rash.
“The risk was worse than the disease,” Linda Cornwall said.
Now a new class of interferon-free drugs could treat hepatitis C without the side effects. Doctor Paul Thuluvath says the different interferon-free drugs are in trials.
“Most likely it will end up with two drugs combined into one pill. So they’ll take one pill a day for three months, we will cure 95 percent of hepatitis C,” said Dr. Paul J. Thuluvath, M.D., at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, told Ivanhoe.
Cornwall took part in one of the trials and has good news.
“I just found out today I’m still undetectable. After three months off the medication. And I had no side effects; absolutely none,” she said.
Because people with hepatitis C can sometimes take decades to show symptoms, about 75 percent of those with the disease don't know they have it. New CDC guidelines recommend that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 get tested.
The new drugs could be on the market by 2015.