Interferon-α Treatment of Hepatitis C Patients With Psychiatric Illness: Evidence-Based Risk-Benefit Assessment

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Sir:The clinical management of individuals with comorbid chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and psychiatric illness is a substantial public health problem.1 At least 50% of patients with HCV suffer from at least 1 psychiatric illness.2,3 Furthermore, the prevalence of HCV in patients with psychiatric illness (10%–20%)1 is 5 to 10 times that in the general U.S. population (2%). Recent advances in the treatment of HCV and the introduction of interferon-α–based therapies in combination with ribavirin have resulted in viral clearance (complete eradication of HCV; absent HCV viral load 6 months after HCV treatment is completed) rates of 50% to 59% of patients with HCV genotype 1 (70% of the U.S. HCV-infected population) and 80% to 90% of patients with HCV genotypes 2 and 3 (20%–30% of the U.S. HCV-infected population).4,5

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2005;7(2):74-75