There's very promising news here. Viruses are tricky beasts, and it's possible the cure won't prove lasting, but we can celebrate for now.
"Nearly all -- 99 percent – of patients with hepatitis C who were treated successfully with peginterferon alone, or in combination with ribavirin, had no detectable virus up to seven years later. Researchers say this data validates the use of the word "cure" when describing hepatitis C treatment as successful treatment is defined as having undetectable hepatitis C virus in the blood six months following treatment.
"We at VCU are encouraged by this data because it is rare in the treatment of life-threatening viral diseases that we can tell patients they may be cured," Shiffman said. "In hepatitis C today, we are able to help some patients achieve an outcome that effectively enables them to put their disease behind them."
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Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease of the liver and a leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for liver transplants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.1 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis C, and 3.2 million are chronically infected. The number of new infections per year declined from an average of 240,000 in the 1980s to about 26,000 in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available. The CDC estimates the number of hepatitis C-related deaths could increase to 38,000 annually by the year 2010, surpassing annual HIV/AIDS deaths."