Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment Update from a Retired Psychiatrist

There is a very informative CDC media briefing transcript about why so few Americans are getting tested and treated for Hepatitis C.

I’m a retired consultation-liaison psychiatrist and I used to be the go-to consultant to the hepatology clinic back when the only treatment was interferon-alpha. Because interferon-alpha was associated with neuropsychiatric side effects, notably treatment-emergent depression, I was frequently called to help assess potential treatment candidates and on-going follow-up for some.

A significant number of patients could not tolerate the psychiatric side effects.

Back in the day, interferon-alpha was really the only treatment. Now there are many treatments available and Hepatitis C is a curable disease.

Yet, few Americans are taking advantage of the new curative treatment. There are several reasons why, including the barrier of the high cost of treatment and insurance restrictions. The patients with the highest prevalence tend to be younger than age 40 and struggle with injection drug use, commonly opioids.

A large number of those at risk for Hepatitis C don’t know they have the disease. It’s vital to know where free Hepatitis C testing is available, which can be found at the CDC web site.

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