Hepatitis C infection differs from other chronic viral infections, in that it can potentially be cured by treatment. Several medicines are available to treat individuals infected with HCV, and cure rates have steadily improved with the introduction of newer medicines.
With new drug combinations it is anticipated that it will be possible to cure approximately 90% of persons with HCV infection. These new combinations are effective against the infection in patient groups that were previously described as difficult to treat. Currently licensed treatments for HCV infection include pegylated interferon alpha (IFN), ribavirin (RBV), the protease inhibitors boceprevir, telaprevir and simeprevir; and the NS5B nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir. Whilst interferon remains the backbone of therapy for most patient groups, interferon-free regimes are beginning to be used. Moreover, it is expected that in the next few years, a number of additional antiviral compounds will be licensed.
Treatment and Pregnancy
Unlike for Hepatitis B, there is no specific anti-viral treatment indicated for Hepatitis C during pregnancy. You must not get pregnant while on, or for 6 months following treatment for hepatitis C, but this does not mean that you cannot plan for a family. Some questions to consider are: should you postpone treatment to become pregnant now, or do you start treatment and postpone pregnancy. If you do opt for treatment please speak to the consultant hepatologist/hepatitis nurse specialists regarding the most suitable form of birth control to use inconjuction with antiviral treatment prescribed.
The treatment of hepatitis C is a developing area of medicine. New treatments continue to be developed. The specialist who knows your case can give more accurate information about the outlook for your particular situation.
NI Hepatitis Specialist Nurses - Isobel Stewart & Karen Patterson