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Conversations from CROI 2015: CDC’s Dr. John Ward on Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C was in the spotlight last week at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections Exit Disclaimer (CROI) in Seattle. So Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, spoke with Dr. John Ward, Director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis about some of the key science findings being discussed as well as some of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis activities focused on enhancing our nation’s response to viral hepatitis.

Dr. Ward remarks that it is “heartening” to see hepatitis C garner so much attention at this conference of researchers from around the world. There was a plenary session Exit Disclaimer on hepatitis C, as well as several additional sessions, including one that he moderated, “Curing HCV: Mission Accomplished. (View presentations from that and other sessions at http://www.croiwebcasts.org/portal Exit Disclaimer).

Drs. Ward and Valdiserri discuss several studies presented at CROI which showed very high rates of cure achieved with newly approved HCV therapies as well as others still in development. Among the encouraging findings, are that cure rates with these new treatments are also very high for individuals co-infected with HIV and HCV, a group that has historically been less likely to achieve a cure.

CDC’s Dr. Monina Klevens presented Exit Disclaimer an important new analysis of the burden of liver disease among persons with hepatitis C in the United States. Alarmingly, her analysis of data on a very large number of HCV tests conducted between 2010-2013 revealed that about one-half of HCV-infected persons born from 1945-1965 already had severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. She concluded that improved efforts to screen this birth cohort for HCV and link those who are diagnosed with HCV to care and treatment are urgently needed to prevent complications that arise from severe fibrosis or cirrhosis. (Read her abstract Exit Disclaimer.)

Dr. Valdiseri and Dr. Ward also discuss CDC’s efforts to continue to raise awareness about hepatitis C, related testing recommendations and advances in treatment. They spotlight the Know More Hepatitis campaign, which was recently updated with additional tools and resources.

Read our other posts from CROI 2015 to learn more about some of the other key issues discussed there. The scientific presentations from CROI help us better understand, diagnose, and treat hepatitis C, which will help us achieve the goals of the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis.