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Cure for Hepatitis C

Currently, there is no guaranteed hepatitis C cure. In some cases, a person's body will fight off the hepatitis C infection -- serving as a natural cure for the disease. However, the majority of people with hepatitis C have a long-term (chronic) liver infection. Medications can be used to help the body destroy the hepatitis C virus, but they do not always cure the disease entirely. Even if treatment does not offer a cure, it may help stop the swelling, scarring, and other damage to the liver that the disease may cause.

Is There a Cure for Hepatitis C?

In most cases, there is no hepatitis C cure. In some cases, however, the body is able to cure a hepatitis C infection on its own.

Acute Versus Chronic Hepatitis

When the hepatitis C virus infects the liver, a battle begins between a person's natural defenses, called their immune system, and the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The immune system tries to destroy the hepatitis C virus by sending special cells and releasing several natural chemicals within the liver. This response to the infection causes the cells in the area to become damaged and swell. This is called inflammation.
The body's immune system is very good at destroying some types of viruses, but others can be a lot harder to remove. In about 15 percent of people with hepatitis C, the immune system is able to completely destroy the virus and becomes a natural cure. Unfortunately, for about 85 percent of infected people, the immune system is not able to completely get rid of the hepatitis C virus, and they end up having a long-term liver infection. This is called chronic hepatitis C. There is currently no cure for chronic hepatitis C.

Aren't There Medicines That Cure Hepatitis C?

There are medicines available that can successfully treat hepatitis C in some people. Successful treatment is defined as not being able to detect the hepatitis C virus 6 months after treatment has ended. This is also called a sustained virological response, or SVR. Does this mean that the hepatitis C infection was cured? Not necessarily. The tests used to detect hepatitis C have a limit on how small an amount of hepatitis C virus they can detect. So someone could have undetectable levels of hepatitis C virus but still have small amounts of the virus in their body.
Even if treatment is not a hepatitis C cure, it may bring down the swelling of the liver, stop the scarring and fibrosis, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage caused by hepatitis C. It may also reduce the long-term risk of liver cancer.
(Click Hepatitis C Treatment or Hepatitis C Medication for more information on these topics.)

Hepatitis C Treatments

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