Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: January 30, 2014
DOVER (Jan. 29, 2014) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medication for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Olysio (Simeprevir) is just one of several new medications that will offer patients new treatment options, and the potential to eventually cure this challenging disease. With its increased safety and effectiveness, experts expect this new medication will reduce the need for patients to rely on other therapies, which often cause severe side effects, or sometimes fail to work at all.
Chronic HCV infection is prevalent among baby boomers; those born between 1945 and 1965. People born during this period are five times more likely than other adults to be infected. In fact, baby boomers account for 67 percent of all reported hepatitis C cases, and 72 percent of all reported deaths among persons with hepatitis C. As many as three out of four individuals with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection - therefore the CDC recommends everyone in this group be tested for the virus. Testing could identify up to one million individuals in the U.S. who do not currently know they are infected.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3.2 million Americans are infected with the HCV. The HCV is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. People generally become infected by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Most chronically infected individuals will have few or no symptoms until life-threatening complications such as liver cancer or end-stage liver disease develop - typically years after initial infection. Since 2007 HCV has caused more deaths in the United States than HIV.
Still not sure if you're at risk for HCV? Visit the DPH hepatitis web page, and take the 5 minute risk assessment: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/hepatitis.html
For more information, or to report a hepatitis C case, call DPH's Adult Viral Hepatitis program at 302-744-1050.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.