By Angela Keen
HONOLULU (KHNL) - Ground breaking medical research in Honolulu is giving new hope to people who are living with Hepatitis "C". In fact, the study is working so well, the trial is now extended. One local specialist hopes to get more Hepatitis "C" patients enrolled in the study.
Alba Hall has had an adventurous life.
"In '65 I was kind of introduced to the drug scene at Harvard College," said Hall.
His doctors think that drug use may have infected him with Hepatitis "C", a slow moving and potentially deadly virus that attacks your liver.
Hall is one of thousands of baby boomers in Hawaii who are now facing the Hepatitis "C" battle after not knowing their risky behavior 20 or 30 years ago could lead to Hepatitis "C".
"It was never formally diagnosed until a year ago."
Then he found Doctor Alan Tice, an infectious disease specialist with the John A Burns School of Medicine. It turns out the two were classmates at Harvard.
"We didn't have any idea what Hepatitis "C" was or that there were safety factors with needles for example or snorting or things like that," said Dr. Tice.
Hall has been enrolled in Doctor Tice's groundbreaking Hepatitis "C" study. The drug is called Albuferon and it involves interferon treatment in a new timed released form. It's also known to have fewer side effects.
"Yeah, it's like a time release which probably makes it work better and it makes it in general better tolerated as well."
So far, Doctor Tice believes Hall's treatment is a success.
"But as far as we know we have stopped the virus we've stimulated his immune system which you have to do with viral infections. and he is doing quite well."
"I figure I have a 20 years lease on life and I think that's good," said Hall.
You can get Hepatitis "C" if your blood comes into contact with blood from someone who already has the virus. The most common cause of transmission is the sharing of intravenous drug needles. Less common causes of transmission include: sharing a razor, toothbrush or nail clipper with an infected person, accidental exposure to infected blood among health care or public safety workers, exposure to unclean tattooing or body-piercing instruments, or exposure to multiple sex partners.