Nursing Times 16 OCTOBER, 2014
- Hepatitis C poses a considerable public health burden but is often under prioritised
- The availability of new oral treatment combinations will significantly change the way nurses treat and manage patients
- The hepatitis C landscape is rapidly changing with the prospect of eradication an exciting and real possibility
With the arrival of new oral therapies offering clinical cure, what does this mean for nurses on the frontline of hepatitis C care? The Hepatitis C Trust has said that if we act now we can eradicate hepatitis C within a generation.1 With recent advances in hepatitis C treatment, that prediction could become a reality and the long-term outlook for patients is very positive.
Estimates suggest that around 215,000 individuals are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the UK today.2 In England, half of those living with the disease are undiagnosed and in most cases, hepatitis C causes no obvious symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged.3 Despite being a curable infection, only 3% of people receive treatment and almost half of people going to hospital for hepatitis C are from the poorest fifth of society.1 There are many hurdles to overcome in the journey towards eradication and nurses will be at the centre.
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