Treatment of hepatitis C
- Medically reviewed by
- AKF's Medical Advisory Committee
- Last updated
- March 28, 2022
The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to decrease the viral load (the amount of the virus) in your body until the virus is no longer found in your body.
In the past, only two types of drugs were available to treat hepatitis C: Interferon and Ribavirin. Interferon and Ribavirin were used together and were successful in treating Hepatitis C.
Now there are new and better medicines for treating hepatitis C. Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are now considered the best type of treatment for hepatitis C.
Types of treatments for hepatitis C are:
As a kidney patient, certain medicines you take for hepatitis C might need to be adjusted. Talk to your doctor about which medicines might work best for you
- Interferon is a medicine that boosts your immune system so it does a better job attacking the hepatitis C virus. Interferon does not attack the virus itself.
- This was the first available treatment for hepatitis C.
- Interferon is given by injection (a shot).
- Ribavirin is a type of antiviral medicine that works with other medicines to fight hepatitis C.
- In the past, it was used with Interferon. Now it is being used with DAAs.
- Ribavirin is a pill taken by mouth.
Antivirals or direct-acting antivirals (DAAs)
- Direct-acting antivirals are medicines that target a virus. They can get rid of the hepatitis C virus in your body. DAAs are pills taken by mouth.
- DAAs are now considered the best type of treatment for hepatitis C.
- The effects of some DAAs are still being studied.
Who should be treated?
Almost everyone with chronic hepatitis C infection is recommended for treatment. If your hepatitis C has already started damaging your liver, getting treated for hepatitis C should be a top priority for your health care.
It is possible a patient will not fully benefit from treatment of hepatitis C if they:
- Have more than one or very severe health problems
- Have a history of not taking their medicines as directed
- Drink too much alcohol or do illegal drugs
If a person is on the waitlist for a kidney transplant and could receive a kidney infected with hepatitis C, they may not be recommended for treatment at that time. Instead, they will be treated for hepatitis C after they receive the kidney transplant.
How much does treatment for hepatitis C cost?
Treatment for hepatitis C can be very expensive. Ask the financial coordinator at your dialysis center or transplant center if you have concerns about your health insurance and paying for the treatments for hepatitis C.
Can hepatitis C be cured?
Yes. Hepatitis C is considered "cured" when tests show there is no hepatitis C virus is in your body for at least 24 months.
Being cured of hepatitis C is possible for more patients than ever before because of new medicines being made to fight hepatitis C. Talk to your doctor about choosing a medicine for hepatitis C that is right for you.
Supported by an independent educational grant from Merck & Co., Inc.