Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is curable. Hep C treatment is easier and shorter than ever before and the vast majority of those who took the newest medications were cured.
When hepatitis C 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). SVR12 means that there was no detectable virus 12 weeks after completing treatment; SVR24 means that there was no detectable virus 24 weeks post-treatment. The chances of HCV returning after 24 weeks of remaining clear of the virus are nearly zero.
Treatment is recommended for all patients with chronic HCV infection, according to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, except those with short life expectancies that cannot be remediated by treating HCV, by transplantation, or by other directed therapy. Patients with short life expectancies owing to liver disease should be managed in consultation with an expert.”
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 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)
- Your past treatment experience
- If you have cirrhosis
- 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.
Click here for a list of the treatments currently available for hepatitis C:
Click below for the recommendations for HCV treatment from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
Click here for the list of hepatitis C treatment-naive recommendations by genotype.
Click here for the list of hepatitis C re-treatment recommendations by genotype.
Click here for the list of hepatitis C treatment recommendations by genotype for decompensated cirrhosis.
Click here for the list of treatment recommendations by genotype for post-transplant hepatitis C recurrence.
When people are cured of hepatitis C, an SVR means you no longer have hep C and you can’t transmit the virus to anyone else. The virus is no longer in your body, and you are cured for life unless you get a new hepatitis C infection. However, this is a virologic cure. The virus is gone, but if you have cirrhosis, your liver disease remains. Sometimes, the liver will regenerate. If the liver returns to a healthy condition, you’ve experienced both a virologic cure and a disease cure. If there is still cirrhosis, or near-cirrhosis, you need medical follow-up.
Note: Even though you are cured of HCV, you will continue to test positive for HCV antibodies. Positive antibody results merely show that you were exposed to hepatitis C at some point in your life.
People who are cured of HCV may get another hepatitis C infection if they are reexposed. Although reinfection is uncommon, make sure you are familiar with how to prevent getting hep C again. If you have any indication of a liver problem, such as elevated liver enzymes or fatigue, see your health care provider.
Talk to your health care provider about how to maintain a healthy liver. Alcohol, poor diet, lack of physical activity, diabetes, some medications and toxins can injure the liver.
Vaccination will protect you from hepatitis A and B.
Looking for a provider? Try this widget from the CDC’s National Prevention Information Network.
Last Reviewed: June 29, 2023