National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Panel statement: management of hepatitis C.Hepatology 1997; 26(3 Suppl 1):2S-10SHep
The objective of this article is to provide health care providers, patients, and the general public with a responsible assessment of current available methods to diagnose, treat, and manage hepatitis C. A non-Federal, non-advocate, 12-member panel representing the fields of general internal medicine, hepatology, gastroenterology, infectious diseases, medical ethics, transfusion medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, and the public participated. In addition, 25 experts from these same fields presented data to the panel and a conference audience of 1,600. The literature was searched through Medline, and an extensive bibliography of references was provided to the panel and the conference audience. Experts prepared abstracts with relevant citations from the literature. Scientific evidence was given precedence over clinical anecdotal experience. The panel, answering predefined questions, developed their conclusions based on the scientific evidence presented in open forum and the scientific literature. The panel composed a draft statement that was read in its entirety and circulated to the experts and the audience for comment. Thereafter, the panel resolved conflicting recommendations and released a revised statement at the end of the conference. The panel finalized the revisions within a few weeks after conference. Hepatitis C is a common infection with variable course that can lead to chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The course of illness may be adversely affected by various factors, especially alcohol consumption. Therefore, more than one drink per day is strongly discouraged in patients with hepatitis C, and abstinence from alcohol is recommended. Initial therapy with interferon alfa (or equivalent) should be 3 million units three times per week for 12 months. Patients not responding to therapy after 3 months should not receive further treatment with interferon alone, but should be considered for combination therapy of interferon and ribavirin or for enrollment in investigational studies. Individuals infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) should not donate blood, organs, tissues, or semen. Safe sexual practices, including the use of latex condoms, is strongly encouraged for individuals with multiple sexual partners. Expansion of needle exchange programs should be considered in an effort to reduce the rate of transmission of hepatitis C among injection drug users.