Hepatitis C infection is a curable disease in the majority of cases. The goal of hepatitis C treatment is to prevent worsening of liver disease by permanently eradicating the virus from the body.
Hepatitis C treatment has changed dramatically in the last few years. Cure rates are much higher, approaching 95% – 100%. The side effect profile of treatments available has significantly improved allowing most people to continue activities of daily living, including full-time employment, while receiving anti-HCV treatment.
There are still sites on the internet with information regarding HCV that have not yet been updated, including hepatitis C experience blogs, written by patients that received old treatments in the past that included interferon-based treatment. This therapy was associated with significant and sometimes debilitating side effects. A person treated with current new anti-HCV drugs (commonly described as DAAs, or direct-acting antivirals) should not anticipate experiencing these side effects.
Most people treated today for HCV can be cured in a short period of time, from 8 to 12 weeks. Cure for HCV does not revert the commonly used HCV antibody-test to negative. A person with a past HCV infection that is now cured will remain with a positive HCV antibody-test despite the lack of virus. Cure for HCV does not confer immunity (or future protection against re-infection), so a person initially infected, treated and cured, can still become re-infected if that person again gets exposed to a new HCV. The best way to determine if a person previously cured has been re-infected with HCV is by obtaining a HCV-RNA PCR (or a HCV viral load). There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent it is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease.