August 6, 2010

Experts recommend more Hepatitis C testing

Updated: 2010-08-05 20:21:34 CST

Despite advancements in treatment options for hepatitis C, many experts say that expanding the availability of testing for the disease will play a critical role in lowering the rates of infection in the coming years.

Several drug companies have recently made breakthroughs testing new drugs that may control Hepatitis C infections to a greater extent. Some even believe a cure for the chronic disease is on the horizon.

This has led some to suggest that funding for programs aimed at making hepatitis C testing more available could be better used to pay for the new drugs. However, Andrew Muir, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology research at Duke University, says that this is the wrong path to take.

"This approach is wrong and contrary to the direction in which we should and must move our healthcare system," he said. "Our healthcare system misses most infected individuals, who only learn that they have hepatitis C once they have progressed to liver cancer, cirrhosis, or liver failure. At that juncture, treatment options are limited and success rates are lower."

He said that providing more Hepatitis C testing could work in concert with new drugs to identify infected individuals and help treat them more effectively.


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