SAN DIEGO – Primary care clinicians will play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C and in most cases with little time or expense, according to a presentation at ACP’s Internal Medicine Meeting.

“The frontline of treating hepatitis C will be in primary care,” Norman L. Sussman, MD, division of abdominal transplantation, Baylor College of Medicine, said. “Except for the most complicated cases, primary care clinicians can easily manage this disease.”

“The old days were horrible because interferon had so many side effects and patients were calling you every other day,” he told Healio Family Medicine. “Now it’s different. It’s really a question of making a few observations, then seeing the patient at the beginning, at 4 weeks and 12 weeks after they’re finished, there’s really very little [primary care physicians need] to do.”

Clinicians should be aware of patients who may be at risk for developing the disease: those who injected drugs, received a blood transfusion before 1992, received long-term hemodialysis, have a biological mother who is hepatitis C positive, spent time in prison, used intranasal drugs, got a tattoo in unsanitary places, and/or were born between 1945 to 1965, Sussman said.

If testing becomes necessary, that involves “a very simple, very cheap test.”

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