January 6th, 2013
The main aim of treatment is to eliminate the virus. Treatments also aim to address inflammation in the liver; prevent the disease progressing to cirrhosis of the liver; reduce the risk of liver cancer and avoid the need for liver transplantation.
Combination therapy, which consists of two antiviral drugs (pegylated interferon and ribavirin), is the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C.
Most recently, scientific advances have resulted in new treatments called protease inhibitors becoming available in some countries. The first two of these drugs are known as boceprevir and telaprevir. They have quickly become the standard treatment for individuals infected with genotype 1 of the virus.1 Both drugs are taken by mouth and they must be used along with interferon and ribavirin.2
The interferon-ribavirin combination remains the first-line therapy for those with cases of genotypes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, as well as in countries where boceprevir and telaprevir have not been approved.1
In cases of severe liver damage, transplants may be needed. Post-transplant patients usually need to continue taking antiviral therapies because re-infection with the HCV virus is very common.
Not all infected individuals need therapies, nor are they effective in every patient given them. Doctors and patients have to decide whether a particular treatment is right for them, once they have weighed up the risks and the benefits.
Check out our hepatitis C news section for the latest updates on treatments and research.