Hepatitis C Challenge: Hep C Caring Ambassadors Program

Hepatitis C Choices Book, 4th Edition

Disclaimer

This book was created to provide information about a wide variety of approaches to the treatment and management of chronic hepatitis C. The Caring Ambassadors Hepatitis C Program and the authors of Hepatitis C Choices believe access to good information leads to better decisions. However, this book is not a substitute for medical advice. It is critical that you consult your healthcare provider about any matter concerning your health, particularly with regard to new or changing symptoms that may require medical attention.

Each chapter and section of the book has been authored independently. Therefore, each chapter reflects the unique approach to the treatment of hepatitis C of its author, based on his or her medical discipline and experience. For this reason, an author is responsible only for the accuracy of the information presented in his or her chapter or section. No author can confirm the accuracy of the information presented in any other chapter or section.

Most of the contributors to Hepatitis C Choices are members of the Caring Ambassadors Hepatitis C Medical Team. Others are guest authors invited by the Caring Ambassadors Hepatitis C Program. The unifying characteristic of the Hepatitis C Medical Team is a willingness to listen and evaluate the diverse viewpoints and treatment options available to people with chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C Choices evolved from a consensus within the Hepatitis C Medical Team that a single resource describing the various modalities of treatment available would be useful to people with hepatitis C. Cooperation and open discussion are key components of the interaction among members of the Hepatitis C Medical Team, though individual members remain aligned with their own discipline.

Be aware that the only treatment proven through controlled clinical trials to show sustained clearance of the hepatitis C virus (as detected by HCV RNA testing of the blood) is interferon-based antiviral therapy. Recent studies of pegylated interferon plus ribavirin report overall sustained responses in 50% to 60% of those treated. In other words, 50% to 60% of people receiving this treatment remain virus-free and are considered cured.

We strongly encourage anyone who has significant fibrosis on liver biopsy to be followed closely for evidence of disease progression. This should include a medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests. People with cirrhosis need to be monitored for clinical and biochemical deterioration, and considered for referral to a liver transplant center. If liver failure occurs, liver transplantation counseling should be sought immediately. Regular screening for the development of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) should be part of any ongoing hepatitis C management plan.

The choice of treatment for hepatitis C is a personal one. What is right for one person may not be so for another. What is right for you will depend on the status of your disease, the health of your liver, your age, lifestyle, treatment goals, and many other factors. We encourage you to carefully assess the information provided here and elsewhere, and to work with your healthcare providers to choose treatment approaches that meet your individual needs and goals.

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