Hepatitis C: Most effective treatment


Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000

Dr. Lee:
What is the most effective treatment for Hepatitis C?

Dr. Edward Block:
We have learned over the last few years that treatment with a single agent (interferon) is not that effective. Therefore, with rare exceptions, we now look to treat patients with combination treatments, using interferon by injection and ribavirin pills together.

Patients treated with interferon/ribavirin combination can expect a 40% chance of complete eradication of the virus. Treatment success will also vary depending on the duration of treatment (how many months of treatment) and on the virus genotype.

The genotypes represent different species of the hepatitis C virus. Different genotypes of the hepatitis C virus will respond differently to treatment.

In this country, 70% of those infected will have the genotype 1. Unfortunately, genotype 1 is the hardest one to treat. Generally, genotype 1 will need to be treated for up to 12 months and we can expect only a 30% to 40% long-term success.

Dr. Lee:
That is with the combination therapy.

Dr. Edward Block:
That is with the combination therapy.

Genotype 2 or 3 are easier to treat than genotype 1. Patients infected with genotypes 2 and 3 may need only six months of treatment and they may have 80% successful response rates as measured by absence of virus at six months following treatment completion.

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