SAN FRANCISCO, Calif-Seven researchers from the University of California at San Francisco, along with a variety of international physicians and researchers specializing in AIDS, liver disease, substance abuse, and health policy, have written an article urging the treatment of hepatitis C patients who are also drug users.
To date, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that patients who are using illicit drugs be denied treatment until they have stopped using for six months.
The authors, on the other hand, recommend that patients who are ill with hepatitis C can be treated for their disease while being educated on how to prevent possible future infection.
Their education plan includes several suggestions on how to prevent using used needles. If they are using illicit drugs that require needles and are unable to treat their addiction, they should enroll in a clean needle program, now available in more than 120 American cities. They should also consider buying new needles from pharmacies and never share their needles with other users.
The article is based on statistics that majority of hepatitis C infections in the US come from drug users who share needles.
The liver disease, caused by a virus, can be treated and removed from the body in two out of three patients. Most people with the disease feel well and do not have any symptoms of the disease until their livers are already severely damaged.
Information from www.hivandhepatitis.com, www.cdc.gov<I/>