Hepatitis C in Argentina: epidemiology and treatment
Luis Alejandro Gaite, Sebastián Marciano, Omar Andrés Galdame, Adrián Carlos Gadano
Hepatology Unit, Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Abstract: Hepatitis C is the leading cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer in Argentina, where from 1.5% to 2.5% of adults are infected. Most of the infections were acquired 30–50 years ago. It is estimated that more than half of infected individuals are not aware of their infection. Even though the prevalence in blood donors has decreased to 0.45% at present, many high-prevalence populations still exist, where the reported prevalence ranges from 2.2% to 7.1%. Therapy is recommended for patients with fibrosis, in order to prevent disease progression, hepatic decompensation, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Great advances were achieved in the treatment of genotype 1 infection since the development and release of boceprevir and telaprevir. When either of these protease inhibitors is associated with peginterferon plus ribavirin, the sustained virological response (SVR) rate improves from 40%–50% to 67%–75%. For genotype 2 and 3 infection, treatment with peginterferon plus ribavirin is still the standard of care, with SVR rates of 70%–90%. There are significant new antivirals in development, and some of them are close to being released. These drugs will most likely be the future standard of care for all genotypes, and will be incorporated in better-tolerated and highly effective all-oral regimes. The impact that these new therapies might have in health-related economics is unpredictable, especially in developing countries. Each country must carefully evaluate the local situation in order to implement proper screening and treatment programs. Difficult-to-treat patients, such as those with decompensated cirrhosis, patients in hemodialysis, and those with other significant comorbidities, might not be able to receive these new therapeutic approaches and their management will remain challenging.
Keywords: hepatitis C, prevalence, transmission, therapeutics, genotype, Latin America
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