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 to one year. 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. In the past, treatment was more likely to work in people with genotype 2 or 3. However, now there are new drugs available that increase the likelihood of treatment success for people with genotype 1.
Other factors that make it more likely that treatment will be successful are:
- Having Hepatitis C for a shorter time
- A low Hepatitis C viral load
- Being younger
- Being female
- Moderate scarring of the liver (fibrosis), not severe scarring (cirrhosis)
- Ability to take medications as prescribed
- Being physically fit and not overweight
- Not drinking alcohol during treatment
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.