University of Louisville opens new center to fight hepatitis C

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – The University of Louisville Hospital has opened a new center to treat hepatitis C.

The hospital held a ribbon-cutting and open house for the UofL Hospital Hep C Center’s official opening Wednesday morning, with the first patients scheduled later in the day.

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In a press release, Barbra Cave, a family nurse practitioner specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology who leads the center, said it is a much-needed service in the community.

“While Kentucky has the highest rate of new hep C cases in the U.S., few places exist here for treatment,” Cave said.

The hospital says in the past, treating hepatitis C was difficult, involving therapy that lasted almost a year, with multiple side effects and not everyone was a candidate for treatment.

Doctors found it challenging, and some patients opted to not get treated at all.

“Many patients were scared off by treatment, knowing it was going to be hard,” Cave said. “Maybe they saw a friend go through it. But we want them to know it’s not hard anymore. We can help so many people.”

The hospital says today, treatment is one pill, once a day, for 8-12 weeks – with minimal side effects. The center also uses FibroScan, which allows staff to perform a non-invasive assessment of the liver without a biopsy.

“This is truly a success story of modern medicine,” he said. “We went from discovering the basic science of the disease in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, to finding a cure in 2014.”

The new center will see patients every weekday, and the hospital is expecting 2,000 patient visits per year, with space to expand as volume grows.