Position paper on the role of Internal Medicine in the management of hepatitis C virus infection (screening, diagnosis, linkage-to-care, treatment)
Since Internal Medicine (IM) is the most frequent setting of hospitalization for both patients with advanced liver disease and those with comorbidities and risk factors for infection, through this position paper FADOI aims to promote and disseminates its vision regarding the current and potential role of IM in managing hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (screening, diagnosis, linkage-to-care, treatment). The Internist plays an important role in identifying new cases, in selecting the appropriate diagnostic work-up for liver disease staging and prognosis, and in initiating antiviral therapy, coordinating care and communication with other specialists, the Hepatology outpatient clinic and General Practitioners. Since the Internist is naturally accustomed to the management of multiple comorbidities, he has a fundamental role in the identification of extrahepatic diseases associated with HCV infection and in the diagnosis of comorbidities, some of which are potential factors of liver disease progression. Moreover, in the prescription of the antiviral therapy, it is important to consider the possible drug interactions, and this ideally fits the role of the Internist who can weigh the risk/benefit ratio of possible alternatives, by considering the patient’s clinical situation, especially in case of multiple comorbidities. Moreover, it seems appropriate that the ability to prescribe antiviral therapy is guaranteed to all IM hepatology clinics, favoring a spread of awareness as well as an increase in national coverage and therefore patient access to therapies. The network of IM can also contribute to homogenizing the management policies of HCV treatment, which sometimes differ between Italian Regions.
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