Treating hepatitis C infection in prison is good public policy

September 27, 2012

Incarcerated patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are just as likely to respond to treatment for the disease as patients in the community, according to findings published in the October issue of Hepatology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. The study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) in Madison found that HCV patients in prison were just as likely to achieve a sustained viral response (SVR) as non-incarcerated patients.

Medical evidence reports that chronic HCV is the leading cause of end-stage liver disease (ESLD) and mortality in the U.S. Further studies have shown the risk of developing cirrhosis due to chronic HCV ranges between 5 and 25 percent over a 25 to 30 year period. Consequences caused by chronic HCV are major public health concerns within the U.S. prison system, with research conducted by the (CDC) estimating up to 31 percent of U.S. inmates have chronic HCV, compared to just two percent of the general population in this country.

"Given that a history of intravenous drug use is more frequent among inmates, there is a higher prevalence of HCV infection in the prison population," explains lead author Dr. Michael Lucey, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the SMPH. "HCV treatment during incarceration provides an opportunity to make a significant improvement to public health."

Incarcerated and non-incarcerated patients with HCV who were seen at the University of Wisconsin Hepatology or Infectious Diseases Clinic between January 2002 and December 2007, were evaluated for antiviral therapy. Researchers identified 521 general-population patients and 388 from the prison population who were evaluated for HCV therapy.

Results show that 61 percent of non-incarcerated and 60 percent of incarcerated patients received treatment with and ribavirin. Those from the prison population were more likely to be African-American males with a history of alcohol or intravenous drug use. The team reported that SVR was achieved in 43 percent of prisoners compared to 38 percent of patients in the general-population group.

"Our findings highlight the effectiveness of antiviral therapy in HCV-infected prisoners, and show that it is as successful as treatment for in the general population," concludes Dr. Lucey. "With previous studies citing poor results of HCV treatment in high-risk groups on an outpatient basis, a correctional setting may be an optimal setting for treatment that will help curb the public health crisis."

Explore further: Hepatitis C may increase deaths from both liver-related and other diseases

More information: "Comparison of Hepatitis C Virus Treatment Between Incarcerated and Community Patients." John P. Rice, David Burnett, Helena Tsotsis, Mary J. Lindstrom, Daniel D. Cornett, Patricia Voermans, Jill Sawyer, Rob Striker and Michael R. Lucey. Hepatology; DOI: 10.1002/hep.25770; Print Issue Date: October, 2012.

Related Stories

Hepatitis C may increase deaths from both liver-related and other diseases

July 18, 2012
[EMBARGOED FOR JULY 18, 2012] In a long-term study of people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), researchers found increased deaths from both liver-related and non-liver related diseases in patients with active infections ...

Recommended for you

Simple tool may expedite transplants in kids with kidney failure

December 18, 2017
An easy-to-use tool to predict the likelihood of a child with kidney disease progressing to kidney failure has a high degree of accuracy and could be used to reduce the burden of dialysis and increase transplantations, according ...

New cellular approach found to control progression of chronic kidney disease

December 15, 2017
Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that extracellular vesicles - tiny protein-filled structures - isolated from amniotic fluid stem cells (AFSCs) can be used to effectively slow the progression of kidney damage ...

Testing shows differences in efficacy of Zika vaccines after one year

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers with members from Harvard Medical School, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bioqual Inc. and MIT has found that the efficacy of the three types of Zika vaccines currently ...

How to regulate fecal microbiota transplants

December 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A small team of researchers at the University of Maryland, some with affiliations to the Veterans Affairs Maryland Health Care System, has written and published a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science ...

Screening could catch a quarter of hip fractures before they happen

December 15, 2017
Community screening for osteoporosis could prevent more than a quarter of hip fractures in older women - according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.