Advances emerging in hepatitis management

New Orleans, LA Hepatitis, a potentially serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver, is a major problem worldwide. Hepatitis A is generally food-borne, while hepatitis B and C spread primarily through parenteral or sexual routes. Hepatitis B and C can be life-long, potentially deadly chronic infections. In studies presented today at Digestive Disease Week in New Orleans, researchers analyzed the causes of hepatitis and potential therapies that may improve care. Digestive Disease Week (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

"The hepatitis viruses, primarily A, B and C, are prevalent throughout the world, and safe and effective therapies are not available for many sufferers," said Anna Lok, M.D., of the University of Michigan. "Once we can fully understand how these viruses cause liver damage, we can develop more effective treatments to manage and cure the disease."

Prevalence and Predictors of HIV Coinfection in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C: A U.S. Multicenter Study (Abstract 107369*)

According to current estimates, coinfection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major worldwide public health problem. Researchers in the VA Healthcare System examined the proportion of chronic HCV-infected patients who had been tested for HIV and related risk factors and found that improved screening programs are needed.

Data was prospectively collected in 4,364 HCV RNA positive patients undergoing evaluation for HCV therapy from 24 medical centers throughout the country over a one-year period. Of these patients, 77.9 percent had been tested for HIV, 15 percent were never tested, 6.7 percent did not know if they were tested, and 0.4 percent declined to answer. Among the HCV-infected patients who were tested for HIV, 8.4 percent were positive, 88.9 per


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