What We Thought We Knew About Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C is a virus, a blood born virus and it affects the liver. So, what it does is when you are exposed to the blood of an infected individual, the virus finds its way into the liver, and in the liver cells, makes copies of itself that allows it to live, replicate, and then go back into the bloodstream where it can affect other people.

The difficulty with Hepatitis C, is that patients are asymptomatic for so very long. And when they do have symptoms that they are vague, and no one would necessarily connect them to their liver. If you came to your doctor, and said I'm fatigue and I have some joint aches, they might check out your thyroid, they might check a few other things, but they may not think to check you for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C right now, is going through a revolution in treatment. For the, we've been treating Hepatitis C since before we knew what it was, using Interferon as a nonspecific treatment for what we thought was a viral disease. Now, in the last three to five years we've seen an explosion of new drugs in development, in clinical trails, and now that directly affect the Hepatitis C virus.

Patients have to understand how serious the disease is. You can't if you don't believe this is important, and you don't believe it's serious, the likelihood that you're going to goes down. Second, we have to educate them on the fact we put so much emphasis on the virus being undetectable in the blood that in some ways that works against you, because if it's undetectable in the blood well then cured already, what is the next six weeks supposed to do.

And so I think we have to educate patients at the beginning that undetectable in the blood is not undetectable in the liver. The big issue is, I think most of us see that therapy, which is effective and can be used by all will be available. The question's how will we do it? And at the end of the day, how will I get paid for? Which is the biggest questions now.