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Treating patients with psychiatric disorders for hepatitis C
Date:12/3/2007

People with severe mental illnesses are far more likely to be infected with Hepatitis C virus compared to the general population, however, they often do not get treatment for their liver disease because current antiviral therapies have known psychiatric side effects.

Against this epidemiological background, the article by Schaefer and colleagues, Hepatitis C treatment in psychiatric risk patients, represents an important study in the field, write Sanjeev Arora and Cynthia Geppert, in the December issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Their editorial is also available online at Wiley Interscience (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology).

It provides an even stronger empirical foundation for the findings of other less methodologically rigorous studies showing that patients with HCV and comorbid psychiatric and substance use disorders have comparable sustained viral responses (SVR) and rates of depression when treated with antiviral therapies, Arora and Geppert report.

While the National Institutes of Health once advised doctors against treating HCV-infected patients who continued to use illicit drugs, drink alcohol, or who had a psychiatric history, in 2002, the agency released a statement that said efforts should be made to increase the availability of the best current treatments to those patients.

Research has shown this approach to be feasible and effective, and it also has important implications for public health. Still, doctors have been slow to act on the recommendation.

Arora and Geppert applaud Shaefer et. als work with very difficult to treat patients and point out that the key to their success was the use of a multidisciplinary team. The patients in this study were carefully screened and monitored and received extensive educa
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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