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.6
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.9, 10
Combination antiviral therapy is used to treat hepatitis C. The medicines used for treatment depend on the genotype of the virus you are infected with, how serious your infection is, and other health conditions you may have.
What to think about
Medicines to treat hepatitis C don't work for everyone.
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 medicines that are producing good results and about experimental medicines that are being developed.
The length of your treatment depends on what hepatitis C genotype you have. Genotypes 1 and 2 typically are treated for 12 weeks. Genotype 3 typically is treated for 12 or 24 weeks. If your viral load does not show signs of improvement after initial treatment, a different set of medicines may be used.
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. New medicines are helping to cure hepatitis C in more people. Talking with your doctor can help you decide whether medicines are right for you.
- Hepatitis C: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?