Symptoms of HCV - Part 4

SKIN

  • Numbness in peripheral regions of the body
  • Skin problems (dry or itchy skin, rashes or spots)
  • Small red patterns of inflamed blood vessels known as "spider naevi"
 

INSOMNIA

  • Insomnia
  • Irregular or poor sleep quality
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sleep dust in the eyes
  • Vivid dreams

VISION

  • Dizziness
  • Eye or eyesight problems - (Blurred Vision/dry eyes)
  • Peripheral vision problems, such as "floaters"
  • Vertigo

What's The Treatment? - 1

Sorry, there is no miracle cure. The best medical science has to offer is a chemotherapy of injection drugs and pills you take for either 24 or 48 weeks, depending on your HCV genotype. These drugs have about a 33% initial success rate at the end of treatment; however, 50% relapse when therapy is discontinued. The final score shows only a 15% success rate, which is based on being virus free six months after treatment. There is no long-term follow up for recurrence since the disease and medicine are recently discovered. Even with this low response rate, the expense for the medication costs from $1,800 to $3,500 per month. That's a lot of money for treatment with only a 15% success rate!

The majority of patients complained of flu-like symptoms while on treatment. Approximately 10-15% of patients have to discontinue medication because of side effects. Major side effects include: psychiatric disorders in 36%, hair loss in 30%, and shortness of breath in 14%. Various other side effects include: anemia, fatigue, sleep disorders, headache, fever, muscle pains, general body aches, chills, nausea, etc.

There's a newer treatment that has not yet been approved in Canada, Peg-Intron. A similar treatment, Pegasys, is being tested in the US. These new drugs have a higher success rate, 11-49%; unfortunately, one of the side effects is attempted and successful suicide both during treatment and upon quitting the medication. Other side effects include heart attack, dangerously low levels of white blood cells and platelets, plus damage to other body organs. This drug is still undergoing testing in Canada before being approved for naive (untreated) patients. The initial success rate shows about 40% in carefully selected test subjects with HCV their only health factor. For more information on current treatments, please visit Schering's Hepatitis Innovations or Roche Pharmaceuticals.

 

What's The Treatment? - 2

In the most serious cases of HCV, the final treatment available is liver transplant. Eight out of ten transplants are successful; however, a successful transplant does not stop the HCV from reinfecting and destroying the new liver. Therefore, a liver transplant patient may have to undergo another year of chemotherapy or a second liver transplant. 20-30% of transplanted livers eventually test positive for cirrhosis due to HCV. According to Canadian Medical Association, hepatitis is the most common reason for liver transplantation in Canada. In the US, there are over 18,700 medically approved patients waiting for donor livers and the waiting list grows annually; only 1/3 of the people approved for transplant eventually receive one. To help meet this transplant need, doctors are considering splitting the donor liver to be transplanted into two recipients.

Many drugs for HCV are in the testing phase. Two of these drugs are Hepatazyme and Anvirzel. Human subjects using Hepatazyme showed no reduction in liver function tests. The testing was halted on humans after one of the test monkeys went blind. Anvirzel is still undergoing testing and is not approved in Canada nor the USA. However, many people purchase this medication from Honduras and find their symptoms are reduced and liver function tests return to normal.

Many people, the author included, are using nutrition or alternative medicine in hopes of halting the progress of liver disease until a treatment with few sides is found. The links section of this site has many alternative treatments listed.

Although HCV is likely to result in 4 times as many deaths worldwide as AIDS, the funding for AIDS is 366 times more than HCV. In the US, $1,150,000,000 is spent annually on research, support and treatment of the 700,000 people infected with HIV/AIDS ($1,643.85 per person); however, only $4,500,000 is funded for the 3,500,000 people infected with HCV ($1.29 per person). Statistics show a similar trend in Canada. Thus it looks like it may be a long time before a cure will be found.