Hepatitis C Virus: 25 Years of Progress

Content From: Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: June 13, 20143 min read


Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH
Jonathan Mermin, MD, MPH
Editor’s note: We encourage our readers to watch the informative sessions described in Dr. Mermin’s post below.Twenty-five years ago, on April 21, hepatitis C virus (HCV) was recognized as a distinct virus by the journal Science. Since that time, many advances have been made in the testing and treatment of HCV. Several medications are available currently to treat chronic hepatitis C, including two new drugs that were approved by the FDA last November. In late 2012, CDC published HCV testing recommendations calling for all baby boomers (persons born during 1945 through 1965) to get a one-time blood test for the infection. These recommendations led to the development of a national education campaign, Know More Hepatitis, which generated over one billion media impressions! With around 3 million adults infected with HCV—most of whom are baby boomers—CDC continues to call attention to the virus and the need for prevention, testing, and linkage to care.

To acknowledge the importance of the discovery of HCV, CDC’s June Public Health Grand Rounds focuses on The 25th Anniversary of the Discovery of the Hepatitis C Virus: Looking Back to Look Forward. The live webcast is scheduled for June 17th from 1 pm-2 pm EST. Presenters include Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) Director Dr. John Ward (“The Epidemiology of Hepatitis C: How Did We Get Here?”), Dr. Phillip Coffin (“Steps toward Ending Hepatitis C in the U.S.”), and Dr. David Thomas (“Hepatitis C: The Curative Era”). Free CME credits will be available.

CDC and the Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition also invite you to a webcast of the National Summit to Improve Access to HCV Testing, Treatment, and Cure. This event will be held on Tuesday, June 17, 2:30 pm-5:30 pm EST, and Wednesday, June 18, 8:30 am-5:00 pm EST. Recent recommendations from CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for HCV testing, together with the availability of safe, highly effective therapies that can cure HCV infection in most cases, have created a unique opportunity for communities to implement strategies that improve the continuum of HCV testing, care, and treatment. Experts will explore strategies for linking patients to care by increasing the capacity of health care providers, leveraging the health system, and effectively reaching key populations. The links to access the webcast will be distributed through GovDelivery this month and posted on the CDC Hepatitis homepage for GovDelivery email updates to receive the latest information on hepatitis!

grand rounds
We look forward to your joining in both of these informative events. We have seen major achievements over the last few years, but must continue to promote the key message for hepatitis C prevention:Widespread screening, together with new cures, could dramatically reduce the burden of HCV in our country and save thousands of lives. The first step for every individual is to know their risk for infection. Please take advantage of and share with others the free online Hepatitis Risk Assessment. It takes just 5 minutes for anyone to find out if he or she should be tested!