Am I Eligible for Treatment?
In the past, when treatment for Hepatitis C basically consisted of interferon and ribavirin, side effects precluded many patients from being eligible. However, with the current availability of interferon-free treatment regimens, many of these people can now receive treatment for their Hepatitis C infection.
Some things your Hepatitis C provider will want to know when discussing your eligibility for treatment, as well as deciding which treatment regimen is best for you, include the following:
- What medications do you currently take?
Some medicines interact with Hepatitis C medications, which can affect the level of either one – meaning that the level of the Hepatitis C medicine or your other medicine may become too high or too low. There can be risks of toxicity if too high, or the medication may be less effective if too low. If available, your Hepatitis C provider will select a treatment option with no interactions. If not available, he or she can talk to your other healthcare providers about the possibility of changing your current medicines before Hepatitis C treatment begins.
As an example, people taking amiodarone (brand names: Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone) should not take Sovaldi or Harvoni due to serious risks of a slow heart rate; deaths have been reported. People taking amiodarone would need to take some other Hepatitis C treatment.
- Do you have kidney disease?
If you have kidney disease you need to talk with your doctor about which treatment options might be right for you. For example, Sovaldi and Harvoni are not recommended for people who have more advanced kidney disease. Additionally, people with advanced kidney disease or those on dialysis who take ribavirin – which is cleared by the kidneys – must take low doses and be closely monitored. Some providers do not recommend ribavirin for these patients.
- Do you have any medical conditions that cause anemia (low red blood cell count)?
Treatment regimens that include ribavirin may not be recommended for some people who have a condition that causes anemia. Ribavirin causes anemia and people with an existing disorder that leads to anemia may not be able to tolerate a further reduction in their red blood cells.
- Are you pregnant?
Antiviral medications may not be recommended if you are pregnant, because these medications can cause birth defects in babies.
This page has been updated and medically reviewed September 2015.