Hepatitis C Treatment
Hepatitis C treatment usually includes the drugs peginterferon and ribavirin. Depending on the genotype, a third drug (a protease inhibitor) may be added to the regimen. Peginterferon is given by injection once a week, and ribavirin is a pill taken twice daily. Treatment for hepatitis C is successful in about 50 percent of people with genotype 1 and in about 75 to 80 percent of people with genotype 2.
Chronic hepatitis C is a condition that can lead to more and more liver damage over time. However, everyone's situation is a little different. So, before hepatitis C treatment is recommended, your healthcare provider will review the results of your blood work and other tests to determine several things, including:
- The amount of virus in your body (see Hepatitis C Viral Load)
- Its genotype (see Hepatitis C Genotypes)
- How much liver damage has already occurred
- Any other medical conditions you may have.
Then together, you and your healthcare provider can decide what hepatitis C treatment, if any, is best for you.
Current hepatitis C treatment usually includes a couple of drugs called peginterferon and ribavirin, plus a hepatitis C protease inhibitor (for genotype 1). Peginterferon, which is sold under the brand names Pegasys® or Peg-Intron®, can be used by itself or with ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®). Peginterferon is given by injection once a week, and ribavirin is a pill taken twice daily. Hepatitis C protease inhibitors include boceprevir (Victrelis®) and telaprevir (Incivek®), both of which are taken by mouth three times a day with food.
The goal of these hepatitis C treatment medications is to get rid of the hepatitis C virus completely. This is also called "clearing the virus." By clearing the virus, you may be able to bring down the swelling of the liver, stop the scarring and fibrosis, and possibly reverse some of the liver damage. It may also bring down the long-term risk of liver cancer.