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Hepatitis C

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Medications

Most people who are known to have an acute hepatitis C infection get treated with antiviral medicine. Treatment for acute hepatitis C may help prevent long-term (chronic) infection, although there is still some debate over when to begin treatment and how long to treat acute hepatitis C.3

Antiviral medicines also are used to treat long-term (chronic) hepatitis C. These medicines can help prevent the hepatitis C virus from damaging your liver.

Sometimes treatment doesn't permanently lower the amount of virus in your blood. But some studies have shown that treatment may still reduce scarring in your liver, which can lower your chances of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.6, 1

Medication choices

Interferons combined with ribavirin are used to help your body get rid of the virus. These medicines may be combined with a protease inhibitor (such as boceprevir or telaprevir) to treat long-term (chronic) hepatitis C.

What to think about

Medicines to treat hepatitis C don't work for everyone. Chronic hepatitis C infection is cured or controlled in about half of the people who are treated with a combination of peginterferon and ribavirin.7 Treatment works for up to 45% of people with genotype 1 and up to 80% of people with genotype 2 or 3.7 Adding a protease inhibitor (such as boceprevir or telaprevir) to peginterferon/ribavirin therapy controls hepatitis C in up to 88% of people with genotype 1.8

If you have tried interferon in the past and didn't get good results, talk to a doctor who is a liver specialist (hepatologist). He or she will be able to tell you about new, experimental medicines.

The length of your treatment depends on what hepatitis C genotype you have. Genotype 1 typically is treated for 1 year. Genotypes 2 and 3 typically are treated for 6 months. If you have genotype 1 and your viral load does not show signs of improvement after 3 months of treatment, your treatment may be stopped.

It is important to weigh the benefits of medicines for hepatitis C against the drawbacks. You most likely don't need to make a quick decision about treatment, because hepatitis C progresses very slowly. Talking with your doctor can help you decide whether medicines are right for you.

Hepatitis C: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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