Treatment of HCV removes the viruses from the body.

The current treatment for chronic hepatitis C is a combination of medications.

The choice of medication and duration of treatment depends on the genotype of the virus. Genotype 1a is the most prevalent in the US, and presently there are several recommended treatment options using a combination of powerful antiviral medications.

Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are the newest available agents to treat HCV. These medications work by targeting specific steps in the HCV life cycle to disrupt the reproduction of viral cells.

Before the availability of DAAs, the treatment for chronic HCV was lengthy and uncomfortable, with less than ideal cure rates. Now the cure rates are over 90 percent. The average duration of treatment is 8 to 12 weeks. The medications are well-tolerated, with the most common side effects being headache and fatigue.

However, new medications for HCV can cost upwards of $100,000. Check with your insurer whether they cover DAA combination therapy, and what information they need to approve coverage.

It is the best course of action to treat chronic HCV early before the patient develops complications or progresses to life-threatening circumstances

As education, risk-based screening, exposure prevention, and the arrival of well-tolerated treatments continue, the outlook for preventing serious liver complications and curing people who have chronic hepatitis C infection has never been better.