The dark ages of hepatitis C treatment are over. Current antiviral therapy using hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) cure nearly everyone the first time, with few or no side effects. When side effects are reported, they tend to be mild and don’t interfere with quality of life. Treatment typically lasts for 12 weeks, although it may be prescribed for 8 to 16 weeks.

Despite this encouraging news, sometimes people are reluctant to try the treatment. They may have direct or indirect experience with the old treatments that were difficult to take and often unsuccessful. Or, they are afraid of taking medicine, and would rather live with hepatitis C.

If you are reluctant to try hepatitis C treatment, try looking at the benefits that come with successful treatment as well as the risks associated with living with untreated hepatitis C.

Benefits of Hepatitis C Treatment

  • A recent study found that curing hepatitis C is associated with reduced risk of death.
  • Successful treatment may help you avoid the need for liver transplantation. However, for those needing new livers, treatment is tied to better outcomes in those on the liver transplant waiting list.
  • No hepatitis C means you can’t pass the virus to anyone else. For me, this was the single greatest benefit I experienced after successful treatment. For 25 years I lived with the burden of knowing that my blood had the potential to transmit hep C to someone else. Living without this burden is amazing.
  • Freedom from fear of hepatitis C. Every now and then, I’d find myself wondering if I would develop cirrhosis and all the complications related to it. Now I don’t think about it. I don’t drink, I maintain a healthy weight, engage in regular exercise, and eat a healthy diet. Liver disease is no longer on my radar.  

Risks Associated With Living With Untreated Hepatitis C

  • In addition to dying from liver disease, hepatitis C increases risk of multiple causes of death, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In, Benjamin Ryan reports, “Compared with those who were cured of hep C, those who were not cured were 28.9 times more likely to die of any cause, including 41.8 times more likely to die of liver-related causes and 14.9 times more likely to die of other causes. Compared with those without the condition, those with decompensated cirrhosis were 29.4 times  more likely to die of liver-related causes and 3 times more likely to die of non-liver-related causes.”
  • Hepatitis C increases risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Treating hepatitis C resets that risk to statistical averages.

This list is by no means comprehensive. People with hepatitis C are at risk for diabetes, depression, and cognitive problems. Hepatitis C is associated with various skin and kidney conditions.  Need I go on?

If you are reluctant to try hepatitis C treatment, be sure it is for a solid reason. Personally, I can’t think of a single one.