Hepatitis C does not always require treatment as the immune response in some people will clear the infection, and some people with chronic infection do not develop liver damage. When treatment is necessary, the goal of hepatitis C treatment is cure. The cure rate depends on several factors including the strain of the virus and the type of treatment given.
The standard of care for hepatitis C is changing rapidly. Sofosbuvir, daclatasvir and the sofosbuvir/ledipasvir combination are part of the preferred regimens in the WHO guidelines, and can achieve cure rates above 95%. These medicines are much more effective, safer and better-tolerated than the older therapies. Therapy with DAAs can cure most persons with HCV infection and treatment is shorter (usually 12 weeks). WHO is currently updating its treatment guidelines to include pangenotypic DAA regimens and simplified laboratory monitoring. Meanwhile, there remains a very limited role for pegylated interferon and ribavirin in certain scenarios. Although the production cost of DAAs is low, these medicines remain very expensive in many high- and upper middle-income countries. Prices have dropped dramatically in some countries (primarily low-income) due to the introduction of generic versions of these medicines.
Access to HCV treatment is improving, but remains limited. In 2015, of the 71 million persons living with HCV infection globally, 20% (14 million) knew their diagnosis. 7.4% of those diagnosed (1.1 million) were started on treatment in 2015. In 2016, 1.76 million people were additionally treated in bringing the global coverage of hepatitis C curative treatment to 13%. Much needs to be done in order for the world to achieve the 80% treatment target by 2030.