New Versus Old Treatments for Hepatitis C

Prior to the 1990s, no treatments existed for people with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). Then the drug combination interferon (a shot) and ribavirin (a pill) came along. These drugs had many unpleasant side effects, and patients had to take them for a year – or longer. These treatments were very challenging. Many people with hepatitis C found the shots painful and the side effects as debilitating as chemotherapy.1

These older drugs also had low cure rates. Only about 40 percent of people taking interferon and ribavirin were cured of hepatitis C. Still, this was the only hep C treatment option available for nearly 15 years.1

How new hepatitis C drugs are better

Then, in 2011, a new class of drugs called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) was introduced. Since 2011, several new variations of DAAs have been released. While different drugs have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to targeting the hepatitis C virus, these drugs are overall much more effective than older treatment options, with fewer side effects! The new drugs also have much shorter treatment times, with some patients only needing to take the medication for 6 to 12 weeks.1

In the U.S., doctors often follow guidelines from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Disease Society of America to treat patients with hepatitis C. However, guidelines for the treatment of hep C change often as new drugs become available and doctors learn more.

Which treatment is best for me?

Hepatitis C treatments vary by the type of hepatitis C you have, known as the genotype. Some of these drugs are more effective for one genotype compared with others. Some treatments can be used for patients who have also been diagnosed with HIV, while others are better for patients who have become reinfected or failed standard treatment, are pregnant, have kidney damage or significant liver damage, or have other health issues.2

Learn more about hep C treatment

Your doctor is the best source of information for understanding your options for hepatitis C treatment based on your individual health needs. But to learn more, consider checking out some of the articles below!

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