1University of Bologna, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences , Via Massarenti, 9, 40138 Bologna , Italy.
The population of patients with hepatitis C is aging. In some countries, the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is actually greater in older patients than in younger individuals. It is also anticipated that hepatitis C will increasingly become a disease of older persons. However, patients older than 70 years are typically excluded from clinical trials. The decision to treat older patients is complex and cannot be made at the sole discretion of the physician.
There is an urgent need to analyze treatment outcomes in the elderly to examine response rates in order to aid in therapeutic decision making.
In geriatric HCV-infected patients, dual therapy with pegylated IFN plus ribavirin is associated with a lower sustained virologic response and a higher discontinuation rate. Even the first-generation protease inhibitors are associated with high rates of side effects, in particular in elderly patients with a high prevalence of comorbidities. The recent development of interferon-sparing regimens could change the treatment paradigm in this setting, and a much larger number of patients could have access to the antiviral therapy programs.