New and Noteworthy
Montreal study shows testing positive for hepatitis C linked to decreased injection drug use
People who inject drugs and who test positive for hepatitis C were more likely to decrease their drug use then people who tested negative, reported researchers in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
From 2004 to 2011, the University of Montreal researchers followed over 200 people who inject drugs. All participants did not have Hep C at the start of the study. Approximately one-third of the participants became Hep C positive during the study.
Both the Hep C negative and Hep C positive participants decreased needle borrowing and lending after they received their diagnosis with a greater decrease among those who contracted Hep C. The Hep C positive participants also decreased their injection drug use by 10% with each three-month period of follow up after diagnosis.
According to the researchers, this study “underscores the need for regular and individualized Hep C screening and counseling for all people who inject drugs with linkage to Hep C treatment and opiate substitution therapy when appropriate.” (Healio.com, December 2013, in English)
Multidisciplinary support improves Hep C treatment results
Attending a multidisciplinary support program (MSP) increased the likelihood that people living with hepatitis C would reach the end of treatment and achieve a sustained virological response (SVR) or cure, reported researchers in the Journal of Hepatology.
Over 400 people participated in the study. All participants were treated with peg-interferon and ribavirin. There were separate arms for people who received the MSP and those who did not (control group).
Participants in the two MSP arms had access to liver specialists, nurses, a pharmacist, a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Participants in the MSP group had significantly higher SVR rates (77.1% and 74.6%) than the control group (61.9%).
Such a program “improves patient compliance and increases the efficiency of [peg-interferon] and [ribavirin] compared to the conventional approach and is also a cost-effective strategy,” stated the researchers. “Close cooperation among the different professionals involved in the care of patients with [chronic hepatitis C] can ensure optimal treatment performance, achieving SVR as the main goal.” (Healio.com, January 2014, in English)
High cure rates in late stage trials of interferon-free treatment sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ledipasvir
Late stage trials showed cure rates of more than 90% for a 12 week, once daily, oral combination of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ledipasvir in people with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus infection.
Close to 2000 people participated in study arms that tested different treatment regimens, including sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ledipasvir with and without ribavirin and for eight, 12 or 24 weeks. The majority of participants had never been treated before (that is, they were treatment naïve). Approximately one-quarter of participants were treatment experienced and about 10% had severe liver damage. All treatment groups had cure rates above 90%. (Healio.com, December 2013, in English)