Thanks to advances in medication options, many patients with hepatitis C can be cured. Your hepatologist or infectious disease expert will determine treatment based on your virus type.
The hepatitis C virus is classified by its unique genetic makeup (genotype). There are six different genotypes, and your doctor will recommend a combination of two or more antiviral drugs depending on which type you have.
Genotype 1 is the most common form of hepatitis C in the United States, and patients are often treated with a combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir or other regimens. Roughly 95 percent of patients treated with these drugs can be cured. However, each patient is unique: Noncompliance, cirrhosis of the liver, genotype of the virus and prior treatment failures can affect how well these treatments work.
As research continues, more medication options are becoming available to patients. You and your doctor should discuss which is best for you.
When left untreated, hepatitis C causes liver scarring, and this can lead to advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis . Those with liver scarring are at greater risk of liver cancer. Your health care team will work together to monitor your liver health.
Hepatitis C Treatment: Lifestyle Changes and Vaccines
There are also lifestyle changes you should make if you are diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should:
- Discontinue alcohol consumption immediately. The combination of alcohol with hepatitis C is particularly dangerous for many patients.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can speed the progression of liver scarring.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if you are not already immune, There are currently no vaccines for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Treatment: Prevention
In the past, blood transfusions were a major cause of hepatitis C transmission. Now, blood donors are routinely screened for hepatitis C, and the incidence of post-transfusion hepatitis is significantly lower. Helping injection drug users modify their behavior has also reduced the prevalence of the disease.
To prevent hepatitis C:
- Do not share needles.
- Choose a licensed facility if you’d like to get a tattoo.
- Practice safe sex.