Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May Is Hepatitis Awareness Month

By Katharina Hathaway, MD
Austin Family Physician

Hepatitis C has been in the news a lot lately.

For an excellent overview of what hep C is and why it is important, read this.

Last fall, two new drugs for hep C were approved by the Federal Drug Administration. The new drugs have higher cure rates and shorter treatment durations than previous therapies. And there are even better medications coming down the pipeline. This will come as great news to those patients with hep C who have taken Interferon-based therapies without being cured, or those who have heard of the side effects of Interferon (such as fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and depression) and have opted to forego treatment.

But patients will only benefit from the new therapies if they get the new therapies.

As the article above points out, these new treatments can be very expensive.  For those individuals with hep C who find the cost of the drugs, or even the copays, to be prohibitively expensive, the drug manufacturers have low or no-cost patient assistance programs.

Austin/Travis County is on the forefront of hepatitis C care. Travis County’s Community Care Collaborative received federal funding to expand capacity for specialty care. As a result, a pilot program was started to treat hep C in our safety-net clinic population. In addition, local Hepatitis stakeholders (doctors, nurses, community health workers, and hep C treatment advocates) have started a Hepatitis Workgroup to keep us connected in order to improve access to care.

Texas patients: If you were born between 1945 and 1965, ask your doctor for a one-time hep C antibody screening test, as is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. And if you already know you have hep C, talk to your doctor about your options for treatment.

Texas doctors: Now is the time to review your patient panel and start those conversations.
Start Testing. Start Treating. Start Curing.

If anyone is interested in hearing more about what we are doing in Austin/Travis County, or would like to learn how to become Hep C ExCeptional, contact me through MeAndMyDoctor. I'd love to hear from you.

Katharina Hathaway, MD

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Great article! I'll need to make an appointment with my doctor to get tested.

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