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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 -- Prevention

Many types of hepatitis can be prevented by making informed lifestyle choices. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis A and B. Adequate sanitation and clean personal habits will help reduce the spread of hepatitis A and hepatitis E. In areas where sanitation is questionable, boil water. Cook all food well and peel all fruit. Health care workers or caregivers involved in the treatment of patients with contagious forms of hepatitis should wash their hands, utensils, bedding, and clothing with soap...

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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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