Early treatment can conquer hepatitis C. Up to 70 per cent of hepatitis C patients could be cured by timely intervention, according to an international study coordinated by researchers with the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
The study by UNSW's National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) also found that a standard combination drug treatment was as effective as a stronger regimen of therapy that is associated with serious side effects.
Advocacy group Hepatitis Australia estimates that more than 300,000 Australians are infected with chronic hepatitis C, yet fewer than two percent receive treatment. Most common routes of infection include contact with infected needles and sexual transmission.
The findings were part of the CHARIOT study - a randomised control trial involving 702 patients from Australia, and 194 from New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, Argentina and Mexico. All had hepatitis C genotype 1- the most difficult to treat.
Lead author of a paper to appear in the journal Hepatology, Professor Greg Dore from NCHECR, said early treatment was vital to prevent the onset of serious liver conditions. Hepatitis C is the principal reason for liver transplants in Australia.
The study was a collaboration between NCHECR, drug company Roche and the Australian Liver Association.