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

July 19, 2001 -- Illegal Drug Users Need/Deserve Treatment for Hepatitis C
University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) researchers are recommending that illicit drug users should be eligible to receive treatment for the hepatitis C virus. The recommendation, published in the July 19 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), differs from the 1997 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Statement on the Management of Hepatitis C. This recommends that people using illicit drugs be denied treatment for hepatitis C until they have stopped drug use for at least six months. The researchers noted that drug users are the source of most hepatitis C transmission in the United States. Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that is readily transmitted through contaminated needles and syringes. "Controlling hepatitis C will require providing treatment to people who use illegal drugs. We believe that when treatment is guided by evidence, tolerance, and compassion, this can be done," said Brian R. Edlin, MD, director of Urban Health Study in the UCSF Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Institute for Health Policy Studies. Dr. Edlin is lead author of the article.