Hepatitis C Infections Are On The Rise Amid The Pandemic. Half Of Infected People Don't Know They Have It.
Hepatitis C rates are increasing exponentially, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control data, and new infections are expected to rise due to a falloff of prevention, testing and treatment during the pandemic.
Though 98% curable, because the virus can show few symptoms in its early stages, approximately half of people who have hepatitis C (HCV) aren't aware of their infection. An estimated half a million Texans are currently living with HCV.
What are the signs and symptoms? How does hep C differ from other forms of the virus? How does it spread?
Hepatitis C is a leading cause of death among middle-aged Black Americans. Those over age 60 are 10 times more likely to be chronically infected with HCV compared to other races, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Why is early testing for hep C so important? Is self-testing an option? What can be done to prevent transmission? How can communities get involved?
What are the most restrictive hep C treatment barriers in Texas? Why are some people denied access? What can be done to reduce racial disparities in HCV screening and treatment eligibility?
What are the latest research developments? Is a vaccine for hepatitis C on the horizon?
- Fred Poordad, M.D., vice president of academic and scientific affairs at the Texas Liver Institute, chief of hepatology at the University Transplant Center, and professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio
- Eric Lawitz, M.D., vice president of scientific and research development at the Texas Liver Institute and professor of medicine at UT Health San Antonio
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, July 28.