Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

UNM launches effort against hepatitis C.(Final)

Byline: Jackie Jadrnak Journal Staff Writer

* Telemedicine program will educate doctors around state

An estimated 32,000 people in New Mexico are infected with the hepatitis C virus. Less than 5 percent of them are getting medical treatment.

In the state's prison system, 2,000 to 3,000 inmates have hepatitis C. None of them is being treated for the disease.

Those treatment numbers might change soon. Dr. Sanjeev Arora, professor of gastroenterology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, is working with others on a program that will help train health care workers around the state to manage this disease and its complex treatment.

"There are not enough people in the state to treat and manage this infection right now," he said.

Without treatment, 3,000 to 4,000 New Mexicans will die of the disease's complications or need a liver transplant in the next decade or two, he said.

The training program draws on UNM expertise in treating hepatitis C and uses telemedicine hook-ups to bring that help to clinicians around the state. Pilot sites to test the program's effectiveness are being set up with the state Department of Corrections and the District III (Las Cruces) office of the state Department of Health. …

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