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New treatments for Hepatitis C announced at AIDS 2014

New treatments for Hepatitis C announced at AIDS 2014

LAST UPDATED // Sunday, 03 May 2015 23:55 Written by // James Findlay

New treatments for Hepatitis C have been announced at the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne that has shown to treat all people living with the virus and removed barriers for people living with HIV.

One of the studies that looked at the efficiency of a new three-drug combination, which included ABT450, Ritonavir and an NS5A inhibitor, found 97 per cent of patients had no trace of Hepatitis C twelve weeks after treatment.

"In the treatments we've been using for years, there have been two problems," explained researcher Professor Mark Sulkowski.

"Not many patients were eligible as Interferon [the drug traditionally used to treat Hepatitis C] came with many side-effects ranging from fatigue to depression, flu like symptoms to weight loss, so when people looked at populations of patients living with HIV, in many settings only 40 per cent were eligible to take the treatment – so for 60 per cent of people, they had no options"

Professor Sulkowski said that people living with HIV and infected with Hepatitis C also didn't respond as well as those without HIV.

"Because Interferon works through the patient's immune system, not a direct acting agent, it really seemed to be blunted by having HIV co-infection, and we really never sorted out why.

"What's really exciting about this new era is when you remove the Interferon more people are eligible.

"Now instead of only 40 per cent of people, we can potentially give treatment to everyone with Hepatitis C, and then because it's targeting the virus, we're seeing the same response from people with HIV than those without HIV.

"The HIV doesn't appear to compromise things. We're no longer concerned about the side effects and the lack of effectiveness of Interferon.

"This is one of the first highly active Hepatitis C regiments to be tested, so I think this is an emerging finding that Hepatitis C, when using drugs like these, can be treated very effectively with people living with HIV"


James Findlay

James Findlay

James Findlay is a Melbourne-based journalist and broadcaster who has worked in community media for many years. He has won awards for his work on The Naughty Rude Show on SYN, and can be heard on JOY 94.9's breakfast program, Triple Threat, and Hide and Seek - exploring sex, sexuality and self. He is currently completing his Master of Public Health specialising in Sexual Health at Melbourne University, and a tutor in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.

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