HCV infection is curable. In clinical trials, roughly 95 percent of
those who took the newest medications were cured. HCV treatment is
easier and shorter than ever before.
treatment is working, the virus will become undetectable in the blood
within four to 12 weeks and will remain that way throughout treatment.
People are considered cured when they have achieved a continuation of
this undetectable status for 12 to 24 weeks after completing therapy.
This is known as a sustained virologic response
(SVR). The chances of HCV returning after 24 weeks of remaining clear of
the virus are nearly zero.
Regarding who should be
treated, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and
the Infectious Diseases Society of America state the following:
"Successful hepatitis C treatment results in sustained virologic
response (SVR), which is tantamount to virologic cure, and as such, is
expected to benefit nearly all chronically infected persons. Evidence
clearly supports treatment in all HCV-infected persons, except those
with limited life expectancy (less than 12 months) due to
non-liver-related comorbid conditions."
In the past,
acute hepatitis C infections (those that are less than six months) were
treated differently than chronic HCV infections. This changed with the
availability of new medications. HCV guidelines recommend delaying
treating a new infection for a minimum of six months, and allowing time
to see if the body will clear HCV on its own. This is called
spontaneous clearance. If spontaneous clearance
does not occur, then the HCV infection is treated as a chronic one.
Whether this is your first hepatitis C treatment, or
you have been treated before, a variety of new HCV medications are
available. Your doctor will prescribe medication and the length of
treatment needed based on your health history and laboratory tests. The
prescribed treatment is based on:
Your HCV genotype
(the genetic structure of the virus)
Your viral load
(how much virus is in your blood)
If you have
If you are a liver transplant recipient or
on the transplant waiting list
Your ability to
tolerate the prescribed treatment
In some cases,
your health insurance plan or drug formulary may determine if you are
eligible for treatment, and what drug regimen will be used.