You may or may not receive treatment for
hepatitis C, depending on:
- How damaged your liver is.
- Other health conditions
- How much hepatitis C virus you have in your body.
- What type (genotype) of hepatitis C you have.
always an option, because the medicines used to treat hepatitis C have serious
side effects, are expensive, and don't work for everyone.
Being diagnosed with
hepatitis C can change your life. You may need help and support to cope with the illness. For more information, see Home Treatment.
Treatment of short-term (acute) hepatitis C
people who have acute hepatitis C don't get treated, because they don't know that they
have the virus.
If a person knows that he or she may have been
exposed to the virus-such as a health care worker who is stuck by a
needle-acute hepatitis C can be found early. Most people who are known to
have an acute hepatitis C infection get treated with medicine. In these cases,
treatment 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
Treatment of long-term (chronic) hepatitis C
is common for people to live with hepatitis C for years without knowing they
have it, because they do not have symptoms. So most people diagnosed with
hepatitis C find out that they already have long-term, chronic infection.
your blood tests and liver biopsy show that you have chronic infection but no
damage to your liver, you may not need treatment. If you do have some liver
damage, you may be treated with a combination of medicines that fight the viral
Whether or not you take medicines to treat
hepatitis C, you will need to have routine blood tests
to help your doctor know how well your liver is working.
decide not to be treated with medicines, your doctor will want to watch you
closely and may want to do a
liver biopsy every 4 or 5 years to check for damage in
Some people who at first decide not to have
treatment later decide they want to have it.
The medicines usually used to
treat hepatitis C are interferons combined with ribavirin plus a protease inhibitor such as boceprevir (Victrelis) or telaprevir (Incivek). They are used for 6 months to a year and help your body get rid of the virus.
Your doctor can help you decide whether
medicines are right for you. For more information, see:
Hepatitis C: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?
For more information, see Medications.
Treatment of relapse or nonresponse
Sometimes you can take different medicine if your
first round of treatment didn't work very well. The decision to try treatment
again is based on several things including how well you tolerated the first treatment and how well the
first round of treatment worked. Talk to your doctor about whether you might try
Treatment if the condition gets worse