Hepatitis C: Treatment

Overview

Hepatitis C is curable. The treatment of hepatitis C has made great progress since the virus was identified in 1988. In the past the chances of being cured were lower, and the side effects of older forms of treatment made it hard to tolerate for many people.

Nowadays, the vast majority of people who qualify for treatment will be cured after a short course of treatment with few side effects.

The type of treatment you receive may depend on your hepatitis C viral genotype, although some combinations of drugs can treat all genotypes. It also depends on how much your liver has been damaged by hepatitis C. If you have cirrhosis (advanced liver damage) you may need to take a longer course of treatment. If previous courses of treatment have failed to cure hepatitis C, you may also need to take the drug ribavirin as part of your treatment, in order to give the best chance of a cure. 

Glossary

cirrhosis

Scarring of the liver – the structure of the liver is altered. See also ‘fibrosis’, which is moderate scarring. See also ‘compensated cirrhosis’ and ‘decompensated cirrhosis’.

genotype

A strain or subtype of a virus. For hepatitis C, genotypes are identified by a number (e.g. genotypes 1,2,3,4,5 and 6); some subtypes have also been identified (e.g. genotypes 1a and 1b). For hepatitis B, genotypes are identified by a letter (A to H). The genotype may influence the risk of disease progression for both viruses; some genotypes respond differently to some treatments.

This information was originally adapted from Hepatitis C: Understanding a silent killer, published by the European Liver Patients Association. It was updated in 2016.