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Hepatitis C Genotypes - Topic Overview

Six major strains (genotypes) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) cause infection. You may be infected with more than one genotype at a time.

  • Genotype 1 is the most common strain in the United States.
  • Genotypes 1, 2, and 3 are found worldwide.
  • Genotype 4 is found throughout northern Africa.
  • Genotype 5 commonly is found in South Africa.
  • Genotype 6 is common in Asia.

Genotype testing is done with a blood test.

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis C -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Because hepatitis C doesn't always cause symptoms, you may not know you have the virus. Your doctor won't check for hepatitis C unless you think you have had contact with a person who is infected or if you were born between 1945 and 1965. If you think you may have hepatitis C, you can get a blood test.  The CDC recommends that you have a blood test for hepatitis C if any of the following are true: You received blood from a donor who later was found to have the disease. You have ever injected...

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How genotype affects treatment

Although genotype tests are not used to diagnose HCV infection, they may be done before treatment begins. Knowing the genotype may help a doctor choose the best treatment plan. You should know your genotype before treatment starts.

Antiviral medicines are more likely to work for people who have genotype 2 or 3.

If blood tests show that you have responded to antiviral therapy (the virus is not detected in your blood) after 6 months, treatment may be:

  • Continued for another 6 months, if you are infected with genotype 1.
  • Stopped, if you are infected with genotype 2 or 3. Prolonging treatment does not seem to provide any more benefit.

The genotype of HCV does not appear to have any effect on the severity of HCV infection or to affect your risk of developing cancer of the liver (hepatocellular carcinoma).

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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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