New research is emphasizing the urgent need to address chronic hepatitis B and C liver disease in the United States. According to a new government report, hepatitis C death rates have been increasing steadily over the last decade. The latest data (1999-2007) from the CDC shows that more Americans now die of hepatitis C.
Experts speculate that about 50-75% of those who are infected with hepatitis C are unaware they have the disease – which may explain why the death rate is so high. However, chronic hepatitis is very preventable cause of death; liver disease specialists say that early detection and intervention can keep patients safe and healthy. But first hepatitis awareness and screenings need to be promoted more effectively.
A vaccine is available for hepatitis A and B, but not for hepatitis C. Specialists recommend that the best way to address concerns about hepatitis C is routine screening. If current trends continue, by 2030 deaths from hepatitis C are expected to reach 35,000 a year, researchers say.
At the Liver Institute of Virginia, which has two offices on the campus of Bon Secours Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Virginia and at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, world-renowned liver disease treatment specialist, Dr. Mitchell Shiffman, and his expert team treat Hampton Roads residents struggling with liver diseases, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and liver cancer.
While Dr. Shiffman is currently running numerous hepatitis C clinical trials at his Newport News office, he is excited about the new research and looks forward to the next stage of trials. According to the Oxford team, a U.S. team of researchers is planing to carry out a larger trial of the vaccine in at-risk groups. “We can currently treat hepatitis C sufferers with a variety of methods,” notes Dr. Shiffman, “but the development of a hepatitis C vaccine, to join the hepatitis A and hepatitis b vaccine, would be crucial in helping at-risk patients avoid the disease in the first place.”