Hepatitis C - Medications
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.3
Antiviral medicines also are used
to treat long-term (chronic)
hepatitis C. These medicines can help prevent the
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.6, 1
Interferons combined with ribavirin are used to help your body get rid of the virus. These medicines may be combined with a protease inhibitor (such as boceprevir or telaprevir) to treat long-term (chronic) hepatitis C.
What to think about
Medicines to treat
hepatitis C don't work for everyone. Chronic hepatitis C infection is cured or
controlled in about half of the people who are treated with a combination of
peginterferon and ribavirin.7 Treatment works for up to 45% of
people with genotype 1 and up to 80% of people with genotype 2 or
3.7 Adding a protease inhibitor (such as boceprevir or telaprevir) to peginterferon/ribavirin therapy controls hepatitis C in up to 88% of people with genotype 1.8
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,
The length of your
treatment depends on what hepatitis C genotype you have. Genotype 1 typically
is treated for 1 year. Genotypes 2 and 3 typically are treated for 6 months.
If you have genotype 1 and your viral load does not show signs of improvement
after 3 months of treatment, your treatment may be stopped.
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. Talking with your
doctor can help you decide whether medicines are right for you.
- Hepatitis C: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?