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Adult hepatitis B drug effective in adolescents

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

The results of a recent clinical trial published in the journal Hepatology reveal that the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir DF), which is usually used to treat hepatitis B in adults, may also be effective in teenagers.

The study involved 101 participants who were 12 to 17 years old. The subjects were randomly assigned either a daily regimen of tenofovir DF or a placebo. After 72 weeks, the hepatitis B virus was suppressed in 89 percent of the participants who took tenofovir DF. The drug was proven to be effective in the patients who had not undergone any previous treatments as well as in patients who had previously taken other medications for the virus, while the placebo participants showed no improvements in their symptoms. Furthermore, there were no detrimental side effects attributed to the medication. This has vast implications for a younger demographic of patients who currently suffer from the condition.

"Children chronically infected with HBV are at great risk of developing severe liver disease and possible death due to complications from the disease," said lead research author Karen Murray, M.D., chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Seattle Children's Hospital in Washington. "Tenofovir DF is highly effective in treating adults with chronic HBV and our trial evaluated safety and efficacy of the drug in adolescents."

The investigators also noted that an upcoming two-year study will provide further information on the safety and effectiveness of the virus medication.

Hepatitis B statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2007, nearly 43,000 people reported contracting hepatitis B, which can be detected with a blood test. Since 1990, hepatitis B vaccinations have become increasingly prevalent among children, which has resulted in an 82 percent decline in hepatitis B rates.

Hepatitis B facts
Hepatitis B is spread through body fluids such as blood or semen. People are more likely to be infected during birth, by having sex, sharing needles during intravenous drug use or by coming into contact with someone who has open sores. Hepatitis B is 50 to 100 times easier to pass on than HIV and many people are unaware that they have the disease.

Some symptoms of the virus include fever, fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and joint pain. The CDC notes that symptoms usually become apparent after 90 days of being exposed to the virus and they usually last for three weeks.



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