a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 569.2 Guest: Dr. D.W. Powell, Univ. of Texas Medical, Galveston Topic: Hepatitis C update Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: The threat of hepatitis C...coming up...

SPOT: 15 years in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and trauma. The National Emergency Medicine Association. Call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: Hepatitis C...which kills about 8 thousand people a year in the U.S...has seemed in decline since its peak in 1989...but an expert panel assembled by the National Institutes of Health believes that deaths from hepatitis C will triple within 20 years. One of the panel members...Dr. D.W. from the University of Texas Medical branch at Galveston.

POWELL: There is a considerable lag time between contracting the disease and developing the chronic hepatitis and the cirrhosis that leads to death. What we have is a decrease in the incidence of the acute infection, but there is a large reservoir of patients with chronic infection, who over the next 10 to 20 years, will become ill and will require liver transplantation...may even have significant mortality.

NEMA: Interferon is the only effective treatment against hepatitis C...but it's effective in only 25 to 30% of patients over time. Some experimental drug combinations have shown promise...but the panel says more research is needed into treatment and possible vaccines. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.