Unlike Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, a vaccine for Hepatitis C is not available.
Hepatitis C infection is treated with antiviral medications intended to clear the virus from your body. Your doctor may recommend a combination of two to three medications to be taken over several months or longer. Many blood tests and doctor visits are necessary during this time so that your response to treatment can be carefully monitored and evaluated.
The purpose of using medications to treat Hepatitis C is to:
- Clear the Hepatitis C virus from your bloodstream
- Slow down progression of inflammation and scarring of your liver
- Reduce the chances of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer
Many factors affect treatment results, the most important being your Hepatitis C genotype. Other factors that make it more likely that treatment will be successful are:
- Being younger
- Having Hepatitis C for a shorter time
- A low Hepatitis C viral count
- Moderate scarring of the liver (fibrosis), not severe scarring (cirrhosis)
- Taking medications as prescribed; not missing doses
- Maintaining ideal body weight (avoid obesity)
- Avoiding alcohol and marijuana
Part of the difficulty in the fight against the virus is the lack of a Hepatitis C vaccine; however, treatments can be successful. Detailed information about preparing for treatment can be found in the next section.