New Treatments for Hepatitis C Show Promising Cure Rate

By Nili Gujadhur, MD  |  5/27/2015

Hepatitis C, like Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, is a blood-borne virus that infects the liver. It produces inflammation and eventually leads to cirrhosis and liver failure. About 170 million people worldwide are infected with the virus, including three to four million in the United States.

While Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C each affect the liver, Hepatitis A is an acute infection and does not become chronic. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can begin as acute infections, but frequently become chronic. Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B have vaccines; unfortunately there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

In the U.S., people born between 1945 and 1965 account for 75 percent of all hepatitis infections and 73 percent of Hepatitis C-related mortality. Therefore, in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control recommended one-time testing for the baby boomer generation, hoping to identify at least one million people who can then be treated.

Most treatments for Hepatitis C include interferon, which is associated with a lot of side effects, low cure rates and lengthy treatment durations of up to 12 months.

But recently, a revolution in the treatment of Hepatitis C has occurred with FDA approval of two new interferon-free regimens: Harvoni and Viekira Pak. These medications are simple to take and well-tolerated with few side effects. Their cure rate is more than 90 percent, with only three months of treatment. Now, for the first time, elimination of this virus seems possible.

Visit Health Quest Medical Practice Division of Infectious Diseases to learn more about Hepatitis C, including testing and treatment.