The Pacific Hepatitis C Network has received reports that at least one Canadian assistance program offered by a pharmaceutical company is working with patients, on a case-by-case basis, to treat those with liver fibrosis stage F1. The status quo, requiring a liver fibrosis stage F2 or higher to access hep C treatment, in Canada may be changing and the Pacific Hepatitis C Network applauds this possible change.
If you have hepatitis C and are interested in treatment, please talk to your healthcare provider about it and keep regular tabs on your liver’s health.
Liver fibrosis is the early stage of liver scarring. It happens when a liver tries to heal itself and in the process creates scar tissue that can’t do the work of normal liver cells. Fibrosis doesn’t cause symptoms but can lead to portal hypertension or liver cirrhosis. A liver biopsy is used to diagnosis it. Fibrosis can be stopped and some of the changes reversed if the underlying condition is treated.
Liver Fibrosis Stages
There are five stages of liver fibrosis, stage 0 to stage 4 (stage F1-F4). Stage 0 means a liver is normal and doesn’t have fibrosis. Stage 4 is liver cirrhosis. Currently, BC PharmaCare requires a patient to have liver fibrosis stage 2 or higher in order to possibly qualify for hep C treatment coverage. At stage 2, one may still not know that their liver is damaged and may not experience liver failure symptoms such as yellow skin or eyes or abdominal pain.
More information about liver fibrosis and liver cirrhosis can be found in Understanding Cirrhosis of the Liver: First steps for the newly diagnosed, an easy-to-read resource that was put together by CATIE and the Canadian Association of Hepatology Nurses.