Department of Gastroenterology, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. email@example.com
Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) infection remains a significant health issue. Most patients are asymptomatic, but long term infection may cause liver failure, liver cancer, and death. Projections estimate that these complications will triple by 2020. Chronic hepatitis C infection is curable, and successful viral eradication reduces liver related complications. The landscape of CHC therapy is rapidly changing.
This article outlines the incidence, prevalence and natural history of CHC, and provides information that may assist the general practitioner in the assessment and management of CHC patients.
Chronic hepatitis C infection is under-diagnosed and may lead to significant morbidity and mortality. Currently, only 1.3% of cases are being treated. The GP plays an important role in diagnosing CHC, and provides a unique opportunity to screen patients with risk factors and refer for treatment. The first direct-acting antivirals have recently been approved, and combination all-oral therapy (interferon free) is expected in 3-5 years. Hence, all patients with CHC should be referred for treatment consideration.