written by reader Hepatitis with a C

Second of Two Parts

By DrKSSMDPhD, June 24, 2014

[Ed. Note: Dr. KSS writes about medicine and biotech stocks for the Irregulars. His words and opinions are his own.]

In A History of New York, Washington Irving opens chapter VIII thus: ”In which the author and reader…fall into a very grave and instructive discourse.” This may prove to be a more unleavened column than I prefer to write. Much of the prose may be about dessicated material that investors need to know about, even if learning about it does not entrance readers and cause mirth. The latter portion is a rather long and painstaking comprehensive look at Benitec Biopharma (BLT.AX BNIKF), a core holding for many Irregulars and me.

Let’s be serious. “Melencholia I,” by Albrecht Durer (1514).

In part I of this column, we discussed the biology and pathology of HCV, and tried to give scale and social dimension to the problem. You may want to re-read that lengthy discussion before launching into the breach of this one. We discussed how the disease affects people, how the therapy has affected people, and hinted at how they will be treated henceforth. We left one major aspect of HCV—its relationship with intimate behavior, which most people are curious about—-unaddressed, and introduced Benitec and Gilead as good ways to invest in HCV. Other companies warrant some discussion in passing to give circumspect treatment to the subject. Among the many companies to be mentioned, I have long positions only in Benitec, Gilead, Novartis, Pfizer and Merck. I have no short positions.

Sex and the C

Hepatitis C commonly evokes an important set of questions about the relationship of its transmission to sexuality. This is often the most pressing issue HCV patients want to discuss with doctors. We’re adults here, so as Dr. Kinsey once said, ”Let’s talk about sex.”

Here are facts to help formulate a discussion of HCV and sex. First, and above all else, HCV is a blood-borne infection. The way to get HCV is by exposure to the blood of someone who has HCV, and the commonest ways for this to happen, now, are injecting drug use (with sharing of paraphernalia) and inhalation drug use (if implements such as straws, which get flecks of blood, are shared). Soundgarden’s hit song ”Spoonman” is a rock ode to HCV transmission, though unintended.

Blood is what passes the virus. Thus virus conveyance with sex hinges mostly on whether the sex involves ...

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