Can Hepatitis C Be Treated
Yes, since 2010 enormous progress has been made in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are pills that act on the virus itself to eradicate it from the body, unlike older medicines like interferon injections which work by stimulating an immune response. These new treatments are very effective and can achieve cure rates of over 90%. In most situations now, there is no need for interferon, which was responsible for many of the side effects previously associated with HCV treatment. The new treatment combinations require shorter treatment durations , have reduced side effects and appear to be effective at all stages of the disease.
Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.
Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist to determine whether you are eligible for treatment. A specialist will help you decide which drug therapy is best for you based on the severity of your liver disease, your virus genotype and whether or not you have been treated in the past.
How Long Does It Take To Cure Hepatitis C
Depending on the drug combination, the specific genotype of hepatitis C that is to be treated, any prior treatment, and whether the person has cirrhosis, the duration of medical therapy may be as few as 8 weeks, or up to 24 weeks. Most regimens are for 12 consecutive weeks. This is much shorter than the interferon-based treatments years ago that lasted up to 48 weeks. Generally, a person is not considered cured until the RNA viral load is undetectable for 24 weeks after therapy is stopped. This is called sustained virologic response or SVR.
The presence of cirrhosis or liver fibrosis is determined by liver biopsy, noninvasive fibrosis scans, or formulas that estimate liver fibrosis based on blood tests, such as AST-to-platelet Ratio Index or Fibrosis-4 Index.3
A very important aspect of treatment is the elimination of all alcohol consumption. Alcohol adds fuel to the fire when it comes to chronic hepatitis. Drinking alcohol greatly worsens liver fibrosis and speeds progression to cirrhosis, and there is no safe amount to drink for someone with chronic hepatitis. Drinking alcohol also makes it harder for the medications to be effective and may interfere with proper dosing.
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How Do My Healthcare Professional And I Decide On Treatment
Your healthcare professional will look at your health history and decide if treatment is right for you. The treatment you receive and the length of treatment may depend on:
- How much virus is in your body
- Your genotype of hep C
- Whether you have liver damage
- Whether or not youve been treated previously
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Causes And Risk Factors
HCV causes hepatitis C. People contract the virus through blood-to-blood contact with contaminated blood. For transmission to occur, blood containing HCV must enter the body of a person without HCV.
A speck of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can carry hundreds of hepatitis C virus particles, and the virus is not easy to kill.
The report the following risk factors for developing hepatitis C:
- using or having used injectable drugs, which is currently the most common route in the U.S.
- receiving transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, which is before blood screening became available
- having exposure to a needle stick, which is most common in people who work in healthcare
- being born to a mother who has hepatitis C
The CDC offer advice on cleaning syringes if it is not possible to use clean and sterile ones. Although bleach can kill the HCV in syringes, it may not have the same effect on other equipment. Boiling, burning and using alcohol, peroxide, or other common cleaning fluids to wash equipment can reduce the amount of HCV but might not stop a person from contracting the infection.
It is extremely dangerous to inject bleach, disinfectant, or other cleaning products, so people should make sure they rinse the syringe thoroughly. A person should only ever use bleach to clean equipment if new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available.
People who are at risk due to these factors can have screening to rule out HCV.
- peginterferon alfa-2a
When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms above, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C. Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C.
None of the symptoms above mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but it’s important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you don’t have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about who’s at risk of having the infection.
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Which Drugs Can Cure Hepatitis C Virus
Several agents are available by prescription in the U.S. that can lead to a sustained virologic response , considered a cure for HCV.
Drug combination antivirals for HCV treatment, often taken as one daily dose, are now approved to ease treatment regimens and tend to be more tolerable.
The newer direct-acting antiviral agents medications to treat HCV include:
Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can lead to chronic liver disease like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Symptoms of chronic HCV may not appear for 20 to 30 years after infection.
It is important to seek medical testing and treatment for hepatitis C so you can help prevent its spread and have adequate medical care, if needed. Fifteen to twenty percent of people may eliminate the HCV virus completely from their body within 6 months, but most people remain infected and develop chronic hepatitis C.
If you were born from 1945 through 1965, or are at increased risk for HCV infection for other reasons like sharing drug injection equipment, speak to your doctor about being tested for HCV.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends a one-time hepatitis C test for all adults 18 years of age and older and all pregnant women for each pregnancy. CDC continues to recommend people with risk factors, including people who inject drugs, be tested regularly.
Hepatitis: Which Forms Of This Virus Are Curable
There are several types of hepatitis, some require little to no treatment while others can leave you with more serious conditions such as cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. In this article, we identify the main types, the effect they have on the body, whether they are curable and how to prevent contracting the disease.
Whats in this article
- How can I prevent hepatitis?
The factsHepatitis is most often caused by a virus which inflames the liver and can disappear without treatment or progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer. There are three major types of hepatitis: A, B & C. Unlike A and B, a vaccine for hep C is not available. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, in 2009, there were about 16,000 reported cases of acute hepatitis C and approximately 3.2 million people in the United States are living with chronic hepatitis C.
All strains of the disease can be diagnosed through a blood or tissue sample among other methods. Ensure that you consult your doctor if you suspect you have have been infected by one of them.
Types of hepatitis
There are many types of this disease, however, the following are the most common forms:
Is hepatitis curable?In conclusion, we have found that whether this disease is curable greatly depends on what type of the disease you have contracted.
Find out more about the basics of liver health with Dr. Tarek Hassanein, M.D.
Barriers To A Cure For Hepatitis C
While a potential cure for hepatitis C exists, it doesn’t mean that the cure is accessible for most people carrying the virus. A number of factors have historically limited access to even the newly improved HCV treatments. One of the biggest is that screening for hepatitis C isn’t universal. Many people don’t know they’re infected. Therefore, they can’t be treated.
Another factor is that it’s really important for people to adhere to their treatment regimen and follow-up plan. If someone’s virus is resistant to a treatment, other options are available. However, healthcare providers don’t want more resistant viruses to develop, and thus they may be reluctant to prescribe these drugs to patients who are unlikely to take them reliably. There are also concerns that high-risk hepatitis C patients, such as those who inject drugs, may be at risk of re-infection.
That said, cost-effectiveness research suggests that hepatitis C treatments are a good deal in the long term. That’s true even when they’re given to people with early, “silent” HCV or those who are at high risk for reinfection. Furthermore, the CDC now recommends all adults born between 1945 and 1965 receive one-time testing for the virus.
Treatments For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be treated with medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several weeks.
Until recently, most people would have taken 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon and ribavirin .
Tablet-only treatments are now available.
These new hepatitis C medicines have been found to make treatment more effective, are easier to tolerate, and have shorter treatment courses.
They include sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Using the latest medications, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
But it’s important to be aware that you will not be immune to the infection and should take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected again.
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How Hepatitis C Differs From A B D & E
Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver its commonly the result of a viral infection but there are other possible causes of hepatitis.
Including, autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis caused as a secondary result of drugs, toxins, and alcohol.
There are five main viral classifications of hepatitis: Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Each type has its own specific virus that spreads and is treated differently.
- Hepatitis A: The result of an infection with the hepatitis A virus . This type is an acute, short-term disease and doesnt require treatment.
- Hepatitis B: Caused by the hepatitis B virus and is often an ongoing, chronic condition. It hides deep in the body, like Hep C.
- Hepatitis C: Comes from the hepatitis C virus and typically presents as a long-term condition.
- Hepatitis D: A rare form of hepatitis that only occurs in conjunction with the hepatitis B infection. The hepatitis D virus causes liver inflammation like other types, but a person cant contract HDV without an existing hepatitis B infection.
- Hepatitis E: This is a waterborne disease that results from exposure to the hepatitis E virus . Its mainly found in areas with poor sanitation and can be caused by ingesting fecal matter contaminating the water supply. Usually acute but can be particularly dangerous in pregnant women.
All these viruses are different but should be taken seriously since they can lead to significant liver disease and even death.
What Can Parents Do
- Make sure everyone in the house washes their hands after going to the toilet or changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.
- If you know your child has hepatitis A, they should not return to a child care facility or school until 1 week after the illness started.
- If you or your child is travelling to a country where the disease is common, you should get the vaccine before leaving Canada.
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The Prevalence Of Hepatitis C
2,967 cases of acute hepatitis C were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2016. However, many people with hepatitis C do not experience symptoms others experience symptoms, but do not know the cause of their illness. In reality, the CDC estimates there were as many as 41,200 cases of hepatitis C in 2016 nearly 14x the number of cases actually reported.
Who Should Get Tested
Some people are at increased risk for having hepatitis C, including:
- Current or former injection drug users, including those who injected only once many years ago
- Those born from 1945 through 1965 this group is five times more likely to have been infected before the blood supply was screened.
- Recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987, when less advanced methods for manufacturing those products were used
- Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants prior to July 1992, before better testing of blood donors became available
- Hemodialysis patients
- People with known exposures to the hepatitis C virus, such as: Healthcare workers after needle sticks involving blood from someone who is infected with the hepatitis C virus or Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for the hepatitis C virus
- People with HIV infection
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Can A Transplant Cure Hepatitis C
If you develop chronic hepatitis C and it leads to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.
A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. However, theres a high likelihood that the hepatitis C virus will be transmitted to the new liver in time.
The virus lives in your bloodstream, not just your liver. Removing your liver wont cure the disease.
If you have active hepatitis C, continued damage to your new liver is very likely, especially if hepatitis C remains untreated.
Are There Ways To Cure Hepatitis C Other Than With Medications
Patients sometimes ask whether there are ways to treat hepatitis C other than taking medicines. Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent hepatitis C. Once a person is infected, the only way to treat it is with prescribed antiviral medications.
Some patients worry that having hepatitis C means they will need a liver transplant. Only a very small fraction of people with hepatitis C require a liver transplant. By far, most people with hepatitis C never need a liver transplant. A transplant is performedonlywhen damage to the liver is extremely advanced and the liver is unable to perform its basic functions. A transplant provides a new working liver, but a transplant does not get rid of the hepatitis C virus in the patient. Patients with a liver transplant still need antiviral medication to cure their virus.
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About The Hepatitis B Virus
The hepatitis B virus is a small DNA virus that belongs to the Hepadnaviridae family. Related viruses in this family are also found in woodchucks, ground squirrels, tree squirrels, Peking ducks, and herons.
Structure of the Hepatitis B Virus The hepatitis B virus contains an outer envelope and an inner core.
- The outer envelope of the virus is composed of a surface protein called the hepatitis B surface antigen or HBsAg. The HBsAg can be detected by a simple blood test and a positive test result indicates a person is infected with the hepatitis B virus.
- The inner core of the virus is a protein shell referred to as the hepatitis B core antigen or HBcAg, which contains the hepatitis B virus DNA and enzymes used in viral replication.
Life Cycle of the Hepatitis B Virus
The hepatitis B virus has a complex life cycle. The virus enters the host liver cell and is transported into the nucleus of the liver cell. Once inside the nucleus, the viral DNA is transformed into a covalently closed circular DNA , which serves as a template for viral replication . New HBV virus is packaged and leaves the liver cell, with the stable viral cccDNA remaining in the nucleus where it can integrate into the DNA of the host liver cell, as well as continue to create new hepatitis B virus. Although the life cycle is not completely understood, parts of this replicative process are error prone, which accounts for different genotypes or genetic codes of the hepatitis B virus.
What Drugs Cure Hepatitis C Infection
Most hepatitis C is currently treated with all-oral medical regimens of direct-acting antivirals or DAAs. DAAs is a term used to distinguish these hepatitis C drugs from an older generation of injected medicines that act indirectly on the immune response to the hepatitis C virus. DAAs act directly on the virus to block different steps in its life cycle. There are several DAAs that are used in combinations that have been scientifically proven to cure hepatitis C. They are not interchangeable, and some are only available combined in one pill or dose pack as a specific combination. DAAs are not used as single-drug therapy because of the high risk of the virus developing resistance and because they work best in combinations. The choice of which regimen to use depends upon the genotype of the virus, the level of liver fibrosis , and any drug resistance that may be present .
Examples of combination DAAs with cure rates between 91%-100% include:
Genotype 1a and 1b are the commonest genotypes in the United States. Of all the genotypes, genotype 3 has been the most difficult to treat with DAAs alone and required the use of ribavirin, which has significant side effects. All genotypes can now be treated with oral DAAs without ribavirin. Some genotypes may still require the use of injected pegylated interferon and/or ribavirin if there is no response to DAAs.
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