Welcome to HCV Advocate’s hepatitis blog. The intent of this blog is to keep our website audience up-to-date on information about hepatitis and to answer some of our web site and training audience questions. People are encouraged to submit questions and post comments.

For more information on how to use this blog
click here, the HCV drug pipeline click here, and for more information on HCV clinical trials click here

Be sure to check out our other blogs: The HBV Advocate Blog and Hepatitis & Tattoos.

Alan Franciscus
HCV Advocate
HBV Advocate

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Montreal pilot project aims to cure homeless of hepatitis C

First-of-its-kind program gives infected homeless people access to cutting edge treatments

A first-of-its-kind pilot project is working to cure homeless clients of Montreal's Old Brewery Mission of hepatitis C.

The program, known as Pause Santé, has taken in 27 mission residents over the past year, and 20 have been cured.

It’s estimated that 50 per cent of Montreal’s homeless population lives with the treatable yet potentially fatal disease.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HCSP Publishes 5 New Easy C Fact Sheets in Mandarin Chinese

PDF C型肝炎抗體檢驗
(Easy C: Antibody Tests)

PDF 肝臟
(Easy C: The Liver)

PDF 什麼是C型肝炎?
(Easy C: What Is Hepatitis C)

PDF 有關藥物治療?
(Easy C: What about Treatment?)

PDF 病毒量檢驗
(Easy C: Viral Load Test)

Map of hepatitis C strains should help eradication efforts

Researchers have for the first time mapped the global distribution of hepatitis C strains, creating a crucial resource in the fight to eradicate it.

An estimated 185 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide. A significant number of those who become infected will go on to develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, and up to 500,000 people die each year from liver diseases related to the virus.

Hepatitis C can be cured, and a number of new, dramatically more affordable drug therapies with minimal side effects are set to become available over the next decade. With efforts to create a vaccine also showing promise, the prospect of eradicating the disease is now within sight.

However, the virus has six common strains, or genotypes, which respond differently to different treatments and vaccines. Knowing which strains are common in which areas is essential for planning eradication campaigns.


Hep C Free Oakland Operation Bannerdrop

Photo: Hep c free Oakland supporting world hepatitis day to the max!

Hep C Free Oakland Operation Bannerdrop at the I-80 Pedestrian Overpass aka The Bicycle Bridge-World Hepatitis Day-2014-Bridging The Gaps locally and globally. Support-Outreach-Prevention-Education and Fair Treatment in Viral Hepatitis!

Researchers discover how Hepatitis C virus persists for years

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) lingers in the human body for years, slowly damaging the liver and leading to liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer, which is often fatal. Research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has discovered a mechanism that facilitates the virus achieving this life-long persistence. Chronic HCV infection is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States.

"Liver cancer is one of the most important causes of cancer mortality worldwide. It's also increasing in rapidly incidence within the United States, due largely to the spread of HCV among Americans in the 60s and 70s," said Stanley M. Lemon, MD, Professor of Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In a paper published online by Nature Medicine this week, a team led by Dr. Lemon and colleague Daisuke Yamane, DVM, PhD, found that HCV has a sensor function that allows it to be regulated by the oxidative damage to cell membranes that occurs as a byproduct of its replication and the body's response to it. This slows down virus growth when oxidative membrane damage becomes too high, but allows it to resume when the membrane damage is reduced. By auto-regulating its replication in this way, the virus maintains a low profile, helping it escape detection by the immune system.


‘Stop drinking alcohol’ isn’t always helpful advice for people with hepatitis C, by Alan Franciscus

Hepatitis C mainly causes damage to the liver, although it can affect almost every other organ of the body. There are many ways that people can protect the health of the liver, and ‘Stop drinking alcohol’ is probably the first piece of advice issued to people with HCV.

Alcohol is processed by the liver and in large quantities can cause damage to an HCV infected individual. But people with hepatitis C face many challenges in dealing with this life-threatening disease and the stigma associated with it. They are told to make major lifestyle changes – to stop drinking, smoking, drug-taking, the list goes on and on.

But alcohol is a very addictive substance and not everyone is ready or willing to stop. This is where harm reduction can help.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Underserved and Overcharged: Why those who most need the Hepatitis C cure are least likely to get it

This the 185 million people worldwide living with chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) and their loved ones ought to be celebrating a major medical accomplishment: the release of sofosbuvir, a new medication which cured 90% of HCV-infected patients in clinical trials. It is too soon to celebrate, however, as this life-saving drug remains financially out of reach for most of those affected.

Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer, has decided to sell the medication, named Sovaldi, at a cost of $84,000 per twelve-week treatment regimen. Raymond Schinazi, one of the scientists who helped formulate the drug, estimates that this same treatment regimen costs only $1,400 to produce. At this price, insurance companies and government programs will be reluctant to cover the medication, and it will be inaccessible for most people living in low- and middle-income countries, who account for 90% of HCV cases worldwide.

The prohibitive cost has put health advocates in a bind. Alan Franciscus, of the HCV Advocate, an organization that publishes an HCV-focused newsletter on www.hcvadvocate.org and runs 40-60 trainings each year with public health workers, patients and doctors, is one example. He has found that Gilead has had good patient assistance program for uninsured patients in the past, which he has encouraged people to use.   Yet in spite of this he has remained concerned about how the cost will affect insurance companies’ willingness to cover the medications, and has felt that he has had to “be silent on the question of cost.