World Hepatitis Day is a unique opportunity to take stock of the recent advancements in new treatments and cures to combat versions of hepatitis. Founded by the World Hepatitis Alliance, World Hepatitis Day brings awareness to the five hepatitis viruses that cause inflammation of the liver. This year’s theme for the global campaign is “Elimination.” With hepatitis being the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer, the disease is the most common reason for a liver transplant in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fortunately for patients, highly effective oral treatment options with fewer side effects offer cure rates over 90 percent in as little as eight weeks are now available. Additionally, 31 new medicines are in development for infectious diseases, some of which are treatments for hepatitis.
To see the impact of these new treatments, look no further than Tess of Raleigh, N.C. Diagnosed on Christmas Eve of 2012 with hepatitis C, Tess’s world was turned upside down. She suspected that lifesaving blood transfusions she received as a baby were the cause of her contracting the virus, as blood banks were not screened for hepatitis C at that time. But in 2013, she was enrolled in a clinical trial for a new therapy. Today, thanks to new treatments and the clinical trial process, she has been cured of Hepatitis C.
Left unchecked, the burden of chronic diseases like hepatitis will strain America’s health care system. But thanks to recent advances in science and those in the biopharmaceutical pipeline, chronic care costs and the personal toll taken on families will be minimized. On World Hepatitis Day, we can bring awareness to this disease as well as celebrate the patients and families affected. Today, we strive to eliminate the hepatitis virus and will continue to foster the development of tomorrow’s treatments and cures.