Hepatitis C

Is 12 Weeks Best to Treat Hepatitis C?

The Editors at Hepatitis Central

October 28, 2021

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Recent research suggests that shortening your course of hepatitis C treatment may increase your risk of relapse.



If you have a medical condition, it’s only natural to want the shortest—and fastest—course of treatment. The sooner you can get back to “life as usual,” the better you’ll feel.

Hepatitis C is no exception. However, recent research suggests that shortening your course of treatment with this liver infection may increase your risk of relapse.

6-Week vs 12-Week Hepatitis C Treatments: The Research

On October 1, 2021, the Journal of Hepatology published a study involving 188 people who had recently acquired hepatitis C. (1) Approximately one-half of the subjects received a combination of sofosbuvir and velpatisvir (such as in the drug Epclusa) for a period of six weeks. The remaining subjects received the same type of treatment for twice as long, or a total of 12 weeks.

Of the 93 people in the group receiving six weeks of treatment, nine subjects relapsed once these treatments ended. This equates to slightly more than one in ten. Conversely, of the 95 people receiving 12 weeks of the intervention drug, only two relapsed post-treatment.

Based on these results, the study’s authors concluded that shortening hepatitis C treatments from 12 weeks to six weeks appears to make them less effective, especially in cases where the infection was recently acquired.

Improving Your Hepatitis C Treatment Results

The American Liver Foundation stresses that “adherence to hepatitis C therapy is an important predictor of successful treatment.” (2) This includes going to any required doctor’s appointments, completing necessary tests, and following through with a treatment regimen.

Going to any required doctor’s appointments can help improve your hep C treatment success.

Talking to your doctor can help you decide the best course (and length) of treatment for you based on your particular circumstances and needs.

During this conversation, the Foundation suggests:

  • writing out your questions in advance so you don’t forget them
  • being honest about how you’re feeling
  • and taking notes during the appointment so you can review them later.

Taking actions such as these can help make your appointment more informative and, thus, more beneficial to your Hepatitis C treatment success.

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ABSTRACT

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is well-recognized as a common blood borne infection with global public health impact, affecting 3 to 5 million persons in the U.S. and over 170 million persons worldwide. Chronic HCV infection is associated with significant morbidity and mortality due to complications of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Current therapies with all-oral directly acting antiviral agents (DAAs) are associated with high rates of sustained virologic response (SVR), generally exceeding 90%. SVR is associated with a reduced risk of liver cirrhosis, hepatic decompensation, need for liver transplantation, and both liver-related and all-cause mortality. However, a subset of patients who achieve SVR will remain at long-term risk for progression to cirrhosis, liver failure, HCC, and liver-related mortality. Limited evidence is available to guide clinicians on which post-SVR patients should be monitored versus discharged, how to monitor and with which tests, how frequently should monitoring occur, and for how long. In this clinical practice update, available evidence and expert opinion are used to generate best practice recommendations on the care of patients with chronic HCV who have achieved SVR.

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