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Hepatitis C Treatment

Understanding the Basics of Hepatitis C Treatment

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Updated June 27, 2014

If you were infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), one of two things would happen. You would develop acute hepatitis C (either with or without symptoms) and your immune system would attack and get rid of the virus; or, you would develop acute hepatitis C but your body wouldn't be able to control the virus, and you would then develop chronic hepatitis C. Unfortunately, most people infected with HCV (about 80%) develop chronic hepatitis which puts them at risk for developing many complications, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C treatment either prevents or helps delay developing many of these complications.

The Basics of Hepatitis C Treatment

The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to suppress the virus to the point where it becomes undetectable for a long period of time. Doctors call this SVR, or sustained virologic response. Many things will determine how easily you reach SVR (if at all), including what type of hepatitis C virus you have (its genotype), and if you have other diseases such as HIV at the same time.

Hepatitis C Drugs

Currently, taking a combination of two drugs, peginterferon and ribavirin, is the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C. This therapy, though not perfect, has the best record of success in reaching SVR among all the drugs known to treat the virus. Since these drugs work to stimulate your immune system to fight the virus, some people have better results from them than others do.

A new generation of drugs, which is based on a treatment approach called STAT-C (Specifically Targeted Antiviral Therapy for hepatitis C), isn't available yet, but many experts think it will lead to better treatment success.

Side Effects of Hepatitis C Treatment

Side effects are the unwanted results from a medicine that all drugs have, including peginterferon and ribavirin. In fact, they have rightly earned a reputation for having side effects so difficult that some people have to stop taking them. Before you start treatment, you need to fully understand what these side effects are and which ones you're more likely to experience so you can prepare.
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