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Letter to the Editor

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

Muhamad Aly Rifai, MD

Published: April 1, 2005

Article Abstract

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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

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