BOSTON, Nov. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Research presented this week at The Liver Meeting® — held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases — suggests the United States Veteran Healthcare Administration could potentially cure almost all U.S. veterans in its care who have hepatitis C (HCV) within two-to-three years. The availability of direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) in the treatment of viral hepatitis, coupled with increased funding for these treatments, has led to a 14-fold increase in the number of veterans cured of hepatitis C annually. Although DAAs for HCV are effective, the use of these medications may be limited due to cost and access to care. Researchers recently looked at the introduction DAAs, and the availability of funding for them, to determine the impact those two things have on the ability to treat and cure veterans with HCV. "We now have well-tolerated, safe and effective medications that can eradicate hepatitis C in the vast majority of patients following short, 12-week courses of treatment. This has been one of the greatest medical revolutions in the last 20 years," says George Ioannou, MD, MS, FAASLD; associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine; director hepatology at Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System; and lead investigator in the study. "The question is whether we are delivering these medications to the patients who need them and what obstacles there are to treating and curing the majority of hepatitis C infected patients." Dr. Ioannou's team identified 107,079 instances of hepatitis C antiviral treatment regimens being used in the VA healthcare system between 1999 and 2015. They defined treatment rates and cure rates based on the documentation a negative HCV viral load (i.e., no signs of the virus) at least 12 weeks after the end of treatment.