I have spent the last four days here in Washington DC attending the American Association or the Study of Liver Disease known as AASLD. It is an international conference were researchers from all over the world gather the present data on the most recent discoveries in liver disease and liver treatment. There were over 5000 presentations. It was difficult to select lectures as there were six lectures given simultaneously nearly every day of the conference. My interest here is in Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and Fatty Liver Disease.

As for Hepatitis C, we have great cures available and the push now is to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030. There were two presentations, one from California, and one from Kentucky that have shown that we can reach this goal. If we can eliminate the barriers to getting treatment. One of those barriers is removing prior authorization from Medicaid. Another is linkage to care and getting patient started on medicine as soon as possible. We have medications now that will cure Hepatitis C in eight weeks with no side effects and there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to eliminate hepatitis C, especially in the Tampa Bay area.

As for Hepatitis B, there are many molecules being studied to try to cure her hepatitis C, there is currently no cure, however, we have great treatment with the drug tenofovir and we have been using this for many years to maintain people with undetectable viral load levels and helping prevent them from developing hepatocellular carcinoma. The new molecules presented are very cumbersome, very expensive, very difficult of the liver and their efficacy has not been shown to be worth moving forward.

As for Fatty Liver Disease also known as NASH or NAFLD, there were hundreds of presentations. It is becoming clear that there are genetic factors involved in those who have fatty liver disease and, unfortunately, there is currently no treatment. Studies are underway but nothing was really promising at this point in time. The best treatment is to avoid alcohol and lose weight.

I’m excited to get back to St. Petersburg and share all that I have learned and fired up to continue the effort to eliminate Hepatitis C in the Tampa Bay area. Looking forward to partnering with the Health department, Mayor Welch, and organizations that are out working to deliver clean needle exchanges to help eliminate this disease.

Remember, Be Happy, Help Others

Dr. Bob

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