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7 September 2009
Hep C therapy can derail erectile function
by George Atkinson

Impaired sexual function is common among men undergoing antiviral therapy for hepatitis C, according to a new study in the journal Gastroenterology. The researchers say that this is the first time a study evaluating the combination therapy - peginterferon and ribavirin - has identified sexual dysfunction as a side effect. The study says the treatment has the potential to affect all three components of sexual health: desire, function and satisfaction.

Once therapy started, the onset of sexual dysfunction appeared to be within four weeks, with many patients reporting a gradual worsening over time. At the end of therapy (24 or 48 weeks), an estimated 38 percent to 48 percent of men reported that overall sexual function was worse than before treatment.

While most aspects of sexual health evaluated in this study resolved within six months after the cessation of therapy, erectile and ejaculatory function remained slightly worse than before therapy in a proportion of men who received a full 48 weeks of treatment.

Chronic hepatitis C affects 1 percent to 2 percent of the American population and is more common among African Americans than Caucasian Americans and other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Most review articles on hepatitis C treatment and the package inserts for peginterferon do not mention sexual dysfunction as a potential complication of therapy.

Alcohol, Sex And AIDS

Source: American Gastroenterological Association

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