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Hepatitis C has been a huge problem for mankind for centuries and still remains one today, even in this era of technological progress when no disease is or at least seems to be incurable. There are lots of people suffering from hep C infection (around 200 million worldwide with 11 million new cases every year) and even more hoping there would finally appear an effective vaccine or at least a treatment that would eradicate this virus forever. Unfortunately, this is not a simple virus – constant mutations make it change so often that fighting it gets harder and harder literally every day.
However, even though hep C virus is an incredibly dangerous one, these days it seems that it’s no longer as invincible as it used to be a mere decade ago. There are drugs that show almost 100% efficiency in treating it, there are complex practices that make new infections less likely and there are new vaccines with huge potential in development. Plus, it looks like our immune system has partially adopted to the virus – 15% to 25% of patients with hep C return to perfectly healthy condition on their own, without the use of any meds or procedures whatsoever. Now let’s see how far we got on our way to complete victory over hepatitis C virus. Read on, we hope you will find this article interesting.
Unfortunately, as of now, there is no effective vaccine that would help patients become immune to hepatitis C. Unlike hepatitis A and B, which people can already be successfully vaccinated against, hepatitis C is much more of a challenge due to its ability to mutate frequently.
Nevertheless, there’s been significant progress in development of potentially effective hep C vaccines in the recent years – for instance, right now a group of Australian scientists are working on a drug that has proven to be capable of curing hepatitis C in patients already infected with the virus and it is believed that it would also be effective in preventing hepatitis C. In fact, there’s hope this medication will also make people immune to HIV. The research has been in progress since 2014 and is expected to give the first results in the following 5 years, so, hopefully, a working hepatitis C vaccine will be introduced in the nearest future.
Many scientists believe that the development of a successful hep C vaccines for horses will bring us much closer to discovery of a vaccine that would also be effective in humans. The point is that the variation of hep C virus found in horses is the closest to human HCV as opposed to more distant relatives of the virus found in rodents and bats.
For now, the most effective way of preventing hepatitis C infection implies following a set of simple guidelines that we will lay out below for you. These rules are for you if you want to stay hep C free for the rest of your life:
Besides, it’s important to choose only those medical facilities that follow the highest standards in their operation – for example, carry out detailed donor blood screening, use disposable equipment during surgery, dental care and other invasive operations or at least disinfect it thoroughly after use.
Sovaldi, also known under its generic name of sofosbuvir, is one of very few medications that have been proven effective in the treatment of hepatitis C. It is always used in combination with other drugs, such as ribavirin and peginterferon. The cure rate displayed during combination therapy with Sovaldi, ribavirin and peginterferon is very inspiring – 83% to 96% of all patients treated with it had no signs of HCV in their blood 3 months after the end of treatment, which allows us to assume they got healed completely.
Sovaldi is a relatively safe drug by itself but, unfortunately, the same can’t be told about ribavirin – the medication that is always used together with Sovaldi. Use of ribavirin is known to cause serious birth defects in newborns or even lead to death of fetus. Another downside to therapy with Sovaldi is its cost – a full 12-week course of this medication costs $84,000 in the United States. Fortunately, there are quite a few generic alternatives available at much lower prices of around $1,000 for the whole course.
Viekira Pak is another medicine widely used in the treatment of Hepatitis C. It is manufactured by Abbvie pharmaceutical company and, just like Sovaldi, it is often used together with ribavirin. It should be said, however, that Viekira Pak may be considered to be inferior to Sovaldi in a number of ways. First of all, this medication can only be used for treating hepatitis C genotype 1 while Sovaldi shows significant results in treating all four genotypes of hep C. Additionally, Viekira Pak is currently heavily criticized for being considerably more dangerous than its alternatives – there have been a few cases when hep C patients with liver cirrhosis undergoing therapy with this medication died or required urgent liver transplanting.
Even though there’s currently no hepatitis C vaccine available at the moment, this disease is clearly not as deadly as it was considered to be before anymore. There are drugs that show almost 100% cure rate in treatment of the virus and there are widely accepted practices preventing the infection from spreading as fast as it used to mere years ago. With that taken into account, it’s safe to say that the number of new cases of hep C diagnosed every year is expected to go down over time. Nevertheless, we strongly suggest that all people treat the risks related to hep C infection as seriously as possible. Please, take good care of your health!