New Hepatitis C Drugs Bring Promising Results to VA Patients
Hepatitis C, or Hep C, is becoming a less serious risk to the lives of veterans thanks to new treatment regimen from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system.
Earlier in 2016, the VA announced full treatment funding for all current Hepatitis C patients. Since then, VA medical centers have treated more than 100,000 veterans; more than 68,000 have benefitted from new antiviral drugs.
The antivirals came into use in 2013 and 2014 and are producing high cure rates in recent studies. A review of 17,000 veterans treated for Hep C in VA facilities revealed a 75 to 93 percent cure rate. These veterans had no detectable levels of the Hep C virus in their blood for 12 or more weeks following a therapy regimen of eight to 24 weeks.
Researchers from the VA used the data from these veterans to assess the effectiveness of the treatments. The study divided the Hep C cases into four genotypes.
The first genotype responded the best to the treatment and had the highest cure rates, while the third genotype had the lowest response and cure rate. This information might help doctors revise and tailor the treatment regimen to these other genotypes for more effective care.
These new drugs carry additional benefits, such as the absence of interferon, a component in old Hep C drugs that caused serious side effects and complications. The new drugs also allow anyone to undergo treatment, regardless of other health conditions. Even patients who are already experiencing cirrhosis showed an 87 percent response to the new treatment.
VA Research Helps Millions of Veterans — You Could Be One of Them
Many of the studies and treatment innovations come from the VA and a pool of veterans acting as volunteer patients. The VA has many ongoing research studies that might give veterans access to new treatment options and enhancements for living with an illness or disability.
If you have a service-connected disability, the Disability Help Group can discuss your options for veterans’ disability benefits. Call 800-800-2009 to learn how we can help you with your benefits.