What Are My Options for Treatment?
Treatment for Hepatitis C depends on several factors, including:
- How much virus is in your body (your viral load)
- The genotype or strain of Hepatitis C you have
- If you have liver damage, such as cirrhosis
- What other health conditions you have
- Your response to any previous treatments for Hepatitis C
Acute (short-term) Hepatitis C
A majority of people with an acute Hepatitis C infection often do not know they have the virus and therefore do not get treated. However, if a person realizes that they may have been exposed to the virus – like a healthcare worker who gets a needle stick – an acute Hepatitis C infection can be identified early and medication may be recommended.
Doctors sometimes just recommend bed rest, drinking lots of fluids, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol. You must see your doctor regularly for follow-up blood tests to make sure your body has fully recovered from the virus.
Chronic (long-term) Hepatitis C
Chronic Hepatitis C is defined by the presence of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) for 6 months or longer. Many people already have chronic Hepatitis C when they’re first diagnosed because they were unknowingly infected with the virus many years ago. Your healthcare provider will evaluate you to determine how much damage, or scarring, is present in your liver.
If you have severe scarring (cirrhosis), treatment with antiviral medications will generally be recommended. If you have little to mild scarring (early stage fibrosis), you should still consider Hepatitis C treatment to avoid the long-term complications of the disease, even though you may not be at risk for many years. In fact, with the advent of shorter, easier, and more effective treatment regimens, everyone should consider getting treated. Discuss the risks and benefits of pursuing treatment with your healthcare provider.
This page has been updated and medically reviewed April 2015.