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9. Primary Care Providers Can Treat Hepatitis C


Interferon-free direct-acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C is effective and simple enough that care can be managed by primary care providers, helping relieve the shortage of liver disease specialists.

The advent of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) has made chronic hepatitis C treatment much more effective, as well as shorter -- typically 8-12 weeks instead of 12-24 months -- and simpler because it does not require injections of interferon and management of its many side effects. But along with the high cost of new DAA drugs, access to treatment has been limited by too few people being screened for hepatitis C virus and the lack of enough specialists to treat everyone with the disease.

Studies presented this year show that specialized treatment may not be necessary for most hepatitis C patients in the DAA era. A study from the Alameda Health Consortium in California found that non-specialist physicians and nurse practitioners can be quickly trained to treat hepatitis C with a high level of success and provider satisfaction.

The ASCEND study showed that primary care physicians and nurse practitioners can provide safe and effective treatment even for the most difficult-to-treat patients, which could help increase the number of people receiving hepatitis C therapy.

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