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Hepatitis C Symptoms Can Lay Dormant For Years

New Jersey Senior Care News

Hepatitis C is the number one cause for liver transplants. It is five times more prevalent in the United States than HIV/AIDS and kills about 10,000 Americans annually.

It puts patients at risk for cirrhosis of the liver as well as liver cancer. It can be a relatively silent disease, as many people have no symptoms for years after contracting the virus. In many cases, these are people who are in their 50s and 60s, who often learn of their illness through a routine blood test and are shocked to hear they have the disease.

Primary risk factors for Hepatitis C include use of intravenous drugs (as well as intranasal administration of cocaine), promiscuous sex, blood transfusions, and exposure to tainted blood.

The good news is that recent advances in treatment have dramatically improved the success rate in eradicating the Hepatitis C virus from 50% to 80%. The old standard of care has taken a major leap forward by adding directly acting antiviral agents called DAAs. The new medication, called Incivek, is given for 12 weeks with the old treatment (peginterferon and ribavirin), with the old treatment then continued for 36 more weeks. Incivek, which received FDA earlier this year, is taken in pill form.

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