Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often doesnt have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. This means many people have the infection without realising it.
When symptoms do occur, they can be mistaken for another condition. Symptoms can include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature
- feeling tired all the time
- loss of appetite
Read more about the complications of hepatitis C.
How Will My Provider Monitor Me During The Treatment
Your provider will meet with you during treatment to review how well you are tolerating treatment and review laboratory results. Laboratory tests help keep tabs on your health, track the viral load, and determine your response to treatment. You will be given specific dates to go get your blood tested at the lab during and after the treatment.
What Can People Do To Help The Medications Work Best
- Take the medications every day
- Stay in touch with pharmacy to be sure that all refills are ready on time
- Take the medications exactly as prescribed
- Do not skip doses
- Get all blood tests done on time
- Go to all visits with providers as recommended
- Tell the provider about all other medications that are being taken including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements
- Complete the entire course of medication
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How Hepatitis C Used To Be Treated
Along with abstinence from alcohol , the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C used to be a combination antiviral therapy consisting of a pegylated interferon and ribavirin, sometimes called PEG/riba therapy.
A pegylated interferon is a long-acting form of an interferon, a synthetic copy of an infection-fighting protein secreted by immune system cells in response to pathogens. Ribavirin is a drug that interferes with HCV’s ability to replicate. In some cases, pegylated interferon was used without ribavirin, but ribavirin alone isn’t effective against hepatitis C.
To treat hepatitis C, doctors prescribed weekly injections of the pegylated interferons along with twice-daily oral doses of ribavirin. PEG/riba therapy was not a cure-all.
Interferon is not an option for people with liver failure, autoimmune diseases, and psychiatric illness. It can also cause a range of life-threatening complications that prevent many people from completing their therapy.
Newer drug regimens that can cure hepatitis C have forced a change in the standard treatment for the disease, and in the United States, these medications have largely replaced interferon. But, although it is rarely used, pegylated interferon with or without ribavirin may still be used in combination with newer antiviral drugs.
Who Can Prescribe The New Drugs
A section 85 listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will allow general practitioners, as well as specialists, to prescribe the new treatments. This means that people with hepatitis C will be able to be treated by a general practitioner in the community. However, people with more advanced care needs, such as cirrhosis, may still need to see a specialist.
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What Will My Doctor Need To Know To Treat Me
If you want to be assessed for treatment, you need to make an appointment with a doctor. They will be mostly interested in the condition of your liver. Your doctor will organise, if possible, for you to have a Fibroscan examination. If Fibroscan is not available, your doctor will probably use an APRI test. This is an online calculator that estimates the health of your liver. It involves a blood test called a liver function test.
Dont forget, its very important to get a PCR test 12 weeks after finishing treatment this will mean the doctor can make sure you are cured.
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What Are The Best Home Remedies For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a serious medical condition, consult your doctor before attempting any homeopathic remedies such as vitamins, supplements, or tinctures. Some home remedies could interfere with hepatitis C treatments or medication, so be sure you are following your recommended protocol, doses, and regimens.
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Who Can Access The Cures
Hep C cures are now available to everyone in Australia who has hep C.* The national and state governments want everyone with hep C to be cured, including prisoners and people who inject drugs. Now is a very good time to consider testing for hep C or speaking to your doctor about the hep C cures.
*Cures are available to people who have a Medicare Card or Health Care Concession Card and who arent hospital inpatients.
You might be able to access healthcare and the cures via your computer or phone.
Treatment For Chronic Hepatitis C
Chronic Hepatitis is a long-term condition that can affect your liver. Antivirals will also be used to treat chronic conditions, but in some cases, a liver transplant may be recommended. During the surgery, the damaged parts of the liver will be removed and replaced with the healthy donor liver. After treatment, the virus may return, and antivirals may be again prescribed.
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New Drugs Cure Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause serious and permanent liver damage. The goal of treatment is to clear the virus from the body and stop, slow and prevent liver problems. Until recently, doing that involved inconvenient and painful injections of interferon and a pill called ribavirin. That therapy is known for its toxic side effects and has been compared to “low-grade chemo.” Worse, it doesn’t always work that well. These traditional drugs offer a 50% cure rate at best.
But today, we’re witnessing a revolution in hepatitis C treatment, as more and more medications that directly target the virus gain approval. These medications offer a cure, instead of a partial clearing of the virus. And, as a bonus, most come in the form of a pill. They have fewer side effects and work much fasterwhich means you don’t have to stay on treatment as long as compared to interferon and other drugs.
The rapidly-evolving hep C medication list is giving new hope for the 3.2 million Americans living with the chronic form of the disease. Antiviral therapy for hep C continues to rapidly evolve with the introduction of new drugs and treatment regimens that vary based on hep C genotype, previous treatments, and the presence of cirrhosis. Here’s a closer look at some of the currently prescribed interferon-free medicines for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C Treatment: Lifestyle Changes And Vaccines
There are also lifestyle changes you should make if you are diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, you should:
- Discontinue alcohol consumption immediately. The combination of alcohol with hepatitis C is particularly dangerous for many patients.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can speed the progression of liver scarring.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if you are not already immune, There are currently no vaccines for hepatitis C.
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What Does It Mean To Have A Successful Treatment What Is A Sustained Virologic Response
In an untreated state, the hepatitis C virus infects the cells of the liver and then continuously lives there, making copies of itself that circulate in the bloodstream. Antiviral medications can destroy the ability of the virus to reproduce, so the amount of virus in the bloodstream then decreases. The amount of virus in the blood is measured by aviral load.
Treatment is successful when the viral load drops toundetectablelevels, which means the virus cannot be detected in the bloodstream at all. The viral load becomes undetectable during treatment and remains undetected after treatment has ended. If there is still no detectable virus in the blood 12 weeks after the end of the treatment, the treatment was successful. This is called a Sustained Virologic Response .
A patient who has achieved an SVR is considered to be cured of the hepatitis C virus.
Cost Of Drug Treatments
The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be very expensive listed at tens of thousands of dollars.
While pricing is often negotiated by insurance companies and other agencies, the process is not especially transparent and can be confusing.
If you need help paying for medicines, speak with your doctor. For more information about available financial assistance, visit the American Liver Foundation.
Additional reporting by Deborah Shapiro.
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How Much Will It Cost Patients To Access The New Drugs
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listing means that hepatitis C patients will only pay the normal co-payment for the new drugs. The co-payment is currently worth $6.20 for patients with concessional healthcare cards and $38.30 for general patients without concessional healthcare cards, per drug, per month. For some patients needing three drugs, for example, the co-payment will therefore be $114.90 per month, or $18.60 per month concession.
More information on co-payment charges can be found on the Commonwealth Department of Healths website
First Hepatitis C Treatment Developed Through South
- New treatment combination for hepatitis C virus is an additional affordable option for millions still waiting for access to lifesaving treatments in middle-income countries
- Combination is safe and effective, including for hard-to-treat cases and people with HCV and HIV
- New drug ravidasvir is the first HCV drug to be developed through South-South collaboration and with support from non-profit organizations
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency of Malaysia has granted a conditional registration for a safe, effective hepatitis C treatment developed by a public-private partnership bringing together the Malaysian Ministry of Health, not-for-profit research and development organization Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative , Egyptian pharmaceutical company Pharco, Malaysian pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Berhad, and non-governmental-organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders .
This is the very first drug for HCV to be developed through South-South collaboration and with funding and clinical support from non-profit organizations.
The approval on 4 June concerns a new drug, ravidasvir, for the treatment of chronic HCV infection in adults in combination with other medicinal products. Ravidasvir was developed by the partnership for use with sofosbuvir, an existing DAA, as an affordable, simple, and efficacious public health tool.
Plans to register the new ravidasvir + sofosbuvir combination are advancing in other countries, including in Latin America.
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How Is Hepatitis C Treated
Hepatitis C is treated using antiviral drugs.
Treatment in the first 6 months focuses on:
- treating symptoms
- preventing the spread of the disease
- preventing complications, such as liver damage
For someone who has the disease beyond 6 months, treatment includes a combination of medications. However, not everyone with this form of hepatitis C will need treatment.
Whether or not you are getting treatment, you can help lower the risk of damage to your liver by:
- avoiding alcohol
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.
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Understanding Hepatitis C Genotypes
There is a range of medications for hepatitis C because no single drug works for everyone.
Medications may vary depending on the amount of liver scarring a person has and the viruss genotype.
A genotype refers to the genes that make up the hepatitis C virus. All genotypes cause similar liver damage, but the long-term effects may differ.
Hepatitis C has seven genotypes. Doctors represent these types by using the numbers 1 to 7. The genotype is type 1 hepatitis C. There are also subgroups within these groups, such as hepatitis 1a and 1b.
Knowing which genotype a person has is crucial in getting the proper treatment.
suggests ribavirin effectively treats several genotypes, but it does not work on its own. So the doctor will prescribe another medication to take with ribavirin to treat hepatitis C.
Other facts about ribavirin include:
- Treatment duration depends on other drugs a person is taking.
- The dosage depends on the persons body weight.
- A person will need their blood levels frequently checked while taking the medication to monitor efficiency and toxicity.
- Ribavirin may also cause congenital anomalies. Avoid ribavirin while pregnant or if trying to conceive.
Combination drugs tend to be effective for most or all hepatitis C genotypes.
Current Hcv Treatment Options
There are currently many more options to choose from in treating HCV in 2021, such as:
- protease inhibitors
- polymerase inhibitors
- and direct-acting antivirals .
The World Health Organization recommends and promotes the use of DAAs in eradicating and curing hepatitis C .
Your eligibility for each medication depends on the genotype of the HCV variant that you are infected with.
The following 3 drugs have FDA approval to treat all six HCV genotypes in those without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis:
Other medications have the approval to treat specific genotypes of hepatitis C, such as:
- Harvoni is approved for genotypes 1, 4, 5 and 6.
- Zepatier is approved for genotypes 1 and 4.
- Sovaldi is approved for genotypes 1-4, and in children 3 years and older.
- Viekiera Pak is approved for genotype 1a or 1b.
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Why Should People Take Antiviral Medications For Hepatitis C
The purpose of taking antiviral medications for hepatitis C is to:
- remove all the hepatitis C virus from your body permanently
- stop or slow down the damage to your liver
- reduce the risk of developing cirrhosis
- reduce the risk of developing liver cancer
- reduce the risk of liver failure and the need for a liver transplant
Use Of Oral Daas In Children With Hcv
The development of the oral direct-acting antivirals has transformed the treatment of adults and children with HCV. It is estimated that there are 23,000 to 46,000 children in the U.S. with HCV infection. The occurrence of HCV in children is much less frequent than in adults and is usually acquired at birth.
Treatments are available for children as young as 3 years of age. For children under 3 years of age, treatment should be deferred until at least the 3rd birthday, as many cases will resolve on their own.
- Approved for the treatment of chronic HCV in patients as young as 3 years of age, regardless of HCV genotype or liver disease severity. A new oral pellet formulation was approved in 2021 as well, for children who cannot swallow tablets. Dosing in children is based on weight, and in those less than 6 years old, give the pellets with food to improve palatability.
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Oxfordshire Charity Helping Nhs Eliminate Hepatitis C
An Oxford charity that works with the homeless is helping the NHS in its bid to eliminate Hepatitis C by 2025.
St Mungo’s has partnered with the NHS in a pioneering drug deal and campaign to find and help those at risk.
NHS England said the measures were helping to dramatically cut deaths five years ahead of global targets, putting it on track to become the first country to eliminate the virus.
The charity’s teams provide same-day screenings and help with treatment.
It comes after a five-year contract worth almost Â£1bn across England to buy antiviral drugs for patients which has seen deaths from Hepatitis C, including liver disease and cancer, fall by 35%.
The World Health Organisation had set a target of 10%.
NHS England has been working with charities like St Mungo’s on dedicated “Find And Treat” programmes to help the NHS drive down cases among vulnerable communities, such as the homeless.
Substance use, sharing toothbrushes, razors and other general lifestyle factors associated with sleeping rough are among a range of reasons putting the homeless at a higher risk of contracting the virus.
The project has helped find and cure 70,000 people of the potentially fatal disease and reduced the number of people seeking liver transplants due to Hepatitis C, NHS England said.
A New Way To Beat The Disease
So far, hepatitis C drugs target the virus itself, but research is under way to create new drugs that target the cells that host the virus.
âThere are two ways to prevent a virus from growing: You target the virus or target the cell,â Polyak says. âHepatitis C is capable of mutating, which can lead to resistance to drugs that target the virus. In theory, development of drug-resistant viruses is less of an issue with drugs that target the cell.â
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