Hepatitis C Update and Expanding the Role of Primary Care

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Primary care physicians (PCPs) are increasing their role in the fight against the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Approximately 3.5 million Americans currently live with chronic HCV with rising incidence among young persons, especially those affected by the opioid epidemic. Online guidelines and drug interaction checkers streamline treatment and increase accessibility for both patients and providers. Although treatment with new Direct Acting Antiviral agents ensure cure rates that routinely exceed 95%, as well as cause fewer adverse effects than previously available interferon-based regimens, some states still restrict access to HCV treatment, including by mandating which providers can prescribe and treat HCV. This special communication reviews HCV treatment resources, discusses data demonstrating similar cure rates between PCPs and specialists, and argues that capacity-building among PCPs will be necessary to control the HCV epidemic.