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Lack of health insurance limits hepatitis C patients' access to latest antiviral therapy
Date:2/24/2011

or older and living in the U.S.

Analysis showed that 1.16% of study subjects were infected with HCV. Among those with HCV only 61% were insured compared to 81% of HCV-negative individuals. HCV infection was an independent predictor of being uninsured even after adjusting for demographic disparity in the HCV-positive group. Approximately 67% of HCV-positive patients were eligible for treatment, however only 54% of those treatment candidates had insurance coverage.

Some individuals with HCV may not be eligible for antiviral therapy due to contraindications to treatment. Previous studies have found that only half of HCV patients exhibit a positive response to peginterferon/ribavirin treatment. "The side effect profile of the current antiviral therapy requires careful selection of treatment candidates with a number of chronic conditions," said Dr. Younossi. The authors noted that patients with comorbidities such as active cardiac disease, severe depression, or renal failure are typically ineligible for antiviral therapy due to severe adverse events that may occur with treatment.

Research showed that only 36% of HCV-positive patients who were eligible for antiviral therapy had health insurance. "Access to care for HCV patients is critical. Our results have important implications for HCV-infected patients and should be considered as new health care reform legislation takes effect," Dr. Younossi concluded.


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Contact: Dawn Peters
healthnews@wiley.com
781-388-8408
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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