Friday, July 28th, was World Hepatitis Day, as decreed by the World Health Organization, and . . . I missed it. The word hepatitis means liver inflammation.
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that is typically passed by “dirty” needles or blood transfusions, not by sexual intercourse unless there’s a transfer of blood.
Since the FDA approved it in October 2014, I have been very interested in Harvoni, a combination anti-viral drug that can cure the most common genotype (strain) of the six genotypes of hepatitis C. Harvoni combines the agents lepipasvir and sofosbuvir.
If you’re a baby boomer, you may be aware that public-health authorities have targeted us for hep-C blood screening. After all, we–I’m not speaking from personal experience here–were notorious for sharing needles to inject illegal drugs, and we are more likely to have received blood transfusions or other blood products before 1992, when proper screening of blood supplies began. Because the majority of people infected with hepatitis C are asymptomatic, it is possible to have chronic HCV and not know it. HCV can progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
In a blog later this week, I will explore in detail hepatitis C and the strides that have been made in treating this once-incurable disease.