January 14, 2014

amfAR Launches Hep C Study in Asia

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Jan 14, 2014

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amfAR’s new study will help how how to treat hepatitis C in a resource-limited setting
(Source:amfar.org)

In an effort to implement care for those suffering from hepatitis C in Asia, amfAR’s Therapeutic Research, Education and AIDS Training (TREAT Asia) is conducting a study on how to implement care in a resource-limited setting that can be replicated in the region, where treatment is very costly and rarely accessible. Two hundred HIV-positive patients with hepatitis C infection and signs of liver disease will be offered free treatment.

"As rates of hepatitis C and HIV co-infection continue to rise around the world, managing co-infection is one of the most important clinical challenges we face today," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost.

It is estimated that approximately five million people worldwide are co-infected with HIV and the hepatitis C virus (about 15 percent of all those living with HIV). People co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C have higher rates of progression to hepatitis C-related liver disease, which has become a significant cause of death in people living with HIV.

This is the first time a study is being done in Asia to show how to implement care in a resource-limited setting that can be replicated in the region, where treatment is very costly and rarely accessible.

Led by amfAR’s TREAT Asia program, the study will be implemented in four partner HIV treatment centers: Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia; the HIV-NAT/Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center in Bangkok, Thailand; the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, Vietnam; and the University of Malaya Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In this study, a total of 200 HIV-positive patients with confirmed chronic hepatitis C infection and signs of liver disease will be offered free hepatitis C treatment. The treatment model will include the integration of hepatitis C treatment within routine HIV care, use of a simplified treatment protocol, intensive patient disease education, treatment preparedness and adherence support, as well as peer support.

"The resources needed to effectively treat them remain out of reach for most due to the high cost of hepatitis C medicines and the overall lack of experience with treating co-infected patients in the region," said Annette Sohn, M.D., amfAR vice president and director of TREAT Asia.
The study is sponsored by amfAR, the study drugs are provided by Merck Sharp and Dohme under its Investigator-Initiated Study Program, and hepatitis C molecular viral load and genotyping tests are provided by Abbott.

"This is the first time a study is being done to show how we can implement treatment of hepatitis C in routine HIV care in Asia," said Nicolas Durier, M.D., M.P.H., TREAT Asia’s director of research and one of the study’s principal investigators. "We hope that the model of care we have developed and our study findings will lead to replication and scale-up of hepatitis C treatment across the region, as well as bolster advocacy efforts aimed at expanding the availability of treatment."

Launched in 2001, TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) is a cooperative network of clinics, hospitals, and research institutions working together with civil society to ensure the safe and effective delivery of HIV/AIDS treatments throughout Asia and the Pacific, and now encompasses 23 adult and 21 pediatric clinical sites and HIV support programs across the region.

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $366 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.

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