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African Americans and Hepatitis C Treatment

More than 90 percent of African Americans with hepatitis C are infected with the genotype 1 virus. Since this type of the virus does not respond to hepatitis C treatment as well as other genotypes, African Americans as a group have lower rates of treatment success. Other factors, such as the amount of virus present in the body and the amount of liver damage already inflicted, can also influence the outcomes of hepatitis C treatment.

Does Being African American Affect Hepatitis C Treatment?

As a group, African Americans may be less likely to respond to alpha interferon or peginterferon alone. Although the response to combination therapy has been better, it may still be lower among African Americans than among other races.
 
It is thought that part of this lower response is because over 90 percent of African Americans with hepatitis C are infected with the genotype 1 virus, and this type of the virus does not seem to respond to hepatitis C treatment as well as the other genotypes. This is why it is especially important for African Americans with hepatitis C to be treated with three different medications to improve the success rate if they have the genotype 1 virus.
 
Many factors, including race, may play a role in how well people respond to combination therapy. Research is still being done to better understand how these factors relate to treatment success. Some known factors that can influence treatment success or a person's hepatitis C prognosis include:
 
  • The amount of virus in the person's body (see Hepatitis C Viral Load)
  • How long the person has had hepatitis C
  • How much liver damage has already occurred
  • Any other medical conditions the person may have.
     
To better understand how these factors can affect you personally, be sure to discuss your individual situation with your healthcare provider.
 

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