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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

Hepatitis C Risk Not Limited to Injection Drug Users

  • A study in New York City has found a higher than expected prevalence of hepatitis C infection among non-injecting drug users. In this study, as many as 17 percent of the subjects who denied a history of injection drug use were found to be infected, compared to a 2 percent infection rate in the general population. Among women from one of the study sites in East Harlem who reported use of non-injection heroin, the rate of infection was as high as 26 percent. The findings, published in the May 1 issue of Substance Use & Misuse, may indicate that use of needles and syringes is not the only drug-related risk factor for Hepatitis C Virus. Currently, about 60 percent of all new cases of Hepatitis C Virus infection in the U.S. are attributable to syringe and needle-sharing with an infected individual. Dr. Alan I. Leshner, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Director, says this study demonstrates that "We need to look closer for other routes of Hepatitis C Virus transmission among non-injecting drug-users. If hepatitis C can be transmitted through the sharing of non-injecting drug paraphernalia such as straws or pipes, we need to include this information in public health messages targeted to this population."

  • April 27, 2001 -- Histamine Augments Effect of Interferon in Clearing Hepatitis C Virus
    (Philadelphia) – In a study involving previously untreated patients with chronic hepatitis C, the combination of histamine dihydrochloride (Ceplene™ Injection, Maxim Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, CA) plus interferon-alfa-2b (IFN) produced a sustained viral response that was approximately twice that usually seen with IFN alone. This phase 2 study tested various doses of histamine plus a fixed dose of interferon for 48 weeks. Results at 72 weeks (24 weeks after the end of therapy) showed a sustained viral response in 40% of evaluable patients in all four histamine dosage groups combined. At the highest dose of histamine–10 milligrams per week–44% of the patients had a sustained viral response. These results compare favorably to the 16% sustained complete response at 72 weeks commonly observed for patients treated with IFN alone. The results were presented this week at the meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in Prague, Czech Republic. “The end-of-study results presented today suggest that histamine… contributed to a much higher rate of sustained response in patients infected with hepatitis C,” said Yoav Lurie, M.D., principal investigator in the study and Liver Clinic Director, Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot, Israel. In addition, he said, “During the initial 12 weeks of the study we saw a substantially higher percentage of rapid responders to combination therapy with [histamine] than would be expected under treatment with interferon alone."
  • April 4, 2001 -- Tattooing A Major Route Of Hepatitis C Infection
    Getting a tattoo could be a key infection route for hepatitis C, the most common chronic viral infection affecting almost 2 percent of the United States population, according to a study by a UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researcher. Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology, writes in the March issue of the journal Medicine that tattooing has been previously overlooked as a widespread source of hepatitis C, a potentially fatal disease that attacks the liver, leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. The study found that people who had received a tattoo in a commercial tattoo parlor were nine times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than people who did not have a tattoo.