Treatment This virus is common in our community affecting between 0.5% and 1% of people.
Hepatitis C is caught:
Occasionally it causes an acute hepatitis, but most commonly infection passes unnoticed until blood tests reveal abnormal liver tests. Some people go on to develop serious liver disease including cirrhosis (scarring) or rarely even liver cancer. The exact risk for progression to these diseases in not clear. It varies depending on age at infection, length of infection and alcohol use. The best way for an individual patient to have their risk of progressive liver disease assessed is probably to have a liver biopsy. If there is already a lot of scarring and irritation then it may be more likely that cirrhosis will develop.
Most people, however, will probably have no long term serious problems and most likely will not even be aware of having the infection unless they have a blood test.
To prevent the spread of infection people with Hepatitis C should not:
The drugs used to treat Hepatitis C are Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin. These are expensive and often have side effects. Drug treatment for some patients is available through government funding, drug trials, and private prescription. Not all patients want or are suitable for treatment with these drugs. Apparent cure of Hepatitis C is seen in between 50 and 80% of patients who have Pegylated Pegylated Interferon and ribavirin for 6 to 12 months. A cure cannot be guaranteed in any individual case, but is more likely in those without genotype 1 or 4, women, and those with a shorter length of infection.
Other potential therapies for Hepatitis C include Pegylated Interferons, Herbal remedies, and Amantadine. At the present time evidence for benefit from these treatments is limited to Pegylated Interferons and Ribavrin, which are available for some patients in selected centres. Many studies seem not to have found a benefit from Amantadine, nor the various herbal preparations. These are commonly used, but without good evidence of benefit, by people with Hepatitis C. Some herbs can cause liver disease.
Your doctor can provide you with more information about Hepatitis C and its treatment.
New antivirals including Protease Inhibitors and Polymerase Inhibitors and Novel Interferon Like molecules are being trialled. Some patients may be suitable for enrolment in trials of these newer drugs which may offer improvements over existing therapies.
Created 28 July 1997
Updated 14 May 2010