What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver
disease caused by infection with the hepatitis C
virus. Most infections begin with a short-term, acute
illness that often is so mild that most people who have it do not know anything
is wrong. But up to 85% of people who are infected with the virus will go on to
develop long-term, chronic hepatitis C.2 Over time,
hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer,
or liver failure.
What is the treatment for hepatitis C?
involves taking a combination of antiviral medicines: peginterferon and
ribavirin. Peginterferon is given as a shot once a week. Ribavirin is a pill
taken 2 times a day.
Acute hepatitis C is rarely treated because
most people do not have symptoms and therefore are not diagnosed at this stage.
But doctors may recommend treating acute hepatitis C when it is diagnosed.
Doctors recommend treatment for chronic hepatitis C
when you have a risk of further liver damage, such as from the development of
cirrhosis or liver cancer.
How effective is treatment with antiviral medicines?
How well treatment works is measured by whether you still have the virus
in your blood 6 months after your treatment has ended. In general, treatment
works anywhere from 40% to 80% of the time, depending on different factors,
including your viral genotype.3