A descriptive evaluation of eligibility for therapy among veterans with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.
GOAL: To assess the number of chronic hepatitis C patients eligible for therapy. BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown improved response rates to treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection. However, treatment with interferon alfa has major side effects, and many patients may not be eligible for therapy. STUDY: One hundred consecutive patients with positive hepatitis C serologies at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center were evaluated. Medical records were reviewed, and the patients were interviewed. Patients were considered ineligible for therapy if they had severe mental illness, hazardous alcohol consumption, current drug abuse, decompensated cirrhosis, dementia, terminal illness, diabetic ketoacidosis, and severe cardiac or pulmonary disease or if they were homeless. RESULTS: Of the 100 patients, 92% were male and 51% were African American. The mean age was 47.3 +/- 5.6 years. Only 32 of the 100 patients were eligible for therapy. Hazardous alcohol consumption was present in 44%. Major depressive symptoms were present in 12%. CONCLUSIONS: The minority of chronic hepatitis C patients were eligible for therapy. Significant rates of hazardous alcohol consumption and psychiatric disorders were present. For these patients to complete or become eligible for therapy, a multidisciplinary approach with psychiatric and substance abuse treatment will be necessary.
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