The goals of HCV treatment are to remove the virus from the blood and reduce the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer that can result from long-term HCV infection.
Many patients with hepatitis C benefit from treatment with medications. The most common medications are a combination of pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin, an antiviral medication.
Most patients receive weekly injections of pegylated interferon alfa.
Ribavirin is a capsule taken twice daily. Ribavirin can cause birth defects. Women should avoid getting pregnant during, and for 6 months after treatment.
Treatment is given for 24 - 48 weeks.
Telaprevir and boceprevir are newer drugs which may be used for patients with genotype 1.
These medications have a number of side effects, and patients must be watched closely.
Patients who develop cirrhosis or liver cancer may be candidates for a liver transplant.
People with hepatitis C should also:
- Be careful not to take vitamins, nutritional supplements, or new over-the-counter medications without first discussing it with their health care provider.
- Avoid any substances that are toxic to the liver, including alcohol. Even moderate amounts of alcohol speed up the progression of hepatitis C, and alcohol reduces the effectiveness of treatment.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.