Old people are getting hepatitis C better than kids and teens are. What’s going on?

Treatment for viral hepatitis in the developing world has improved “dramatically” in recent years. Even so, more than 15 million people live with the disease today and another 3 million people contract it each year.

Children and teens account for 8 percent of hepatitis C infections, a number expected to climb in coming years as the virus affects more kids and teens in the developing world. But according to a new report from the U.S. Agency for International Development, older patients are healthier, less likely to need therapy and less likely to develop liver damage, according to a Reuters story.

Older patients’ health has come from broad changes in standard of care, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. In the past, many patients were treated with “covidopa,” a form of a steroid sold by Gilead Sciences Inc.

But Gilead became aware of side effects from its medication for adults with hepatitis C, ledelus, and discontinued stocking its high cost, which has been widely criticized in the U.S.

Now, doctors use a combination of two vaccines, T-cell luster and rabamisplostatin A, which allow doctors to use older antiviral drugs without warning patients, a move some fear could leave young patients exposed to side effects.

The medications are now used in 64 countries around the world, which includes many of the poorest parts of the world. Only three countries — Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Vietnam — do not use the treatment.

Because viral hepatitis affects anyone at some point, this gap could be fixed — but what will it take to reach universal coverage?

Read the full story on Reuters.


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