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Hepatitis C Medications

What is hepatitis C?

Patient Comments

Hepatitis is a general term that means inflammation of the liver that may be caused by viral infections, alcohol, medications, chemicals, poisons, etc. Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver caused by infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is commonly referred to as "Hep C." There are at least six different types of HCV, known as viral genotypes. In the United States, HCV genotype 1 is the most common. Once infected with HCV, the immune system begins to fight the virus. In about 15 to 25% of people, the immune system is able to fight the virus and clear the virus for good. Most people infected with HCV, however, become chronically infected with the virus. Over many years, chronic inflammation from hepatitis C damages the liver. This may lead to liver scarring, liver failure, or liver cancer.

What causes hepatitis C?

The hepatitis C is part of a family of viruses called flaviviruses.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C?

There are no vaccinations that prevent the hepatitis C virus. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, however, are given to patients with HCV to prevent the possibility of acquiring another hepatitis virus. Getting hepatitis A or hepatitis B on top of hepatitis C can add liver damage or even cause severe hepatitis. People with hepatitis C should be screened for past infection with hepatitis A and B. If they have no evidence of antibodies, they should receive vaccines for hepatitis A and/or B.

Hepatitis A vaccine may be given alone or in combination with hepatitis B vaccine, depending on whether the patient needs one or both. Hepatitis A vaccine (Havrix, Vaqta) is inactivated (killed) hepatitis A virus that stimulates the immune system to develop antibodies against hepatitis A. These antibodies kill the virus before it can cause infection. It is given in 2 doses intramuscularly 6 months apart.

Hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix-B, Recombivax HB) is made with hepatitis B antigens (pieces of the virus) that stimulate antibodies against hepatitis B virus. There is no live virus in the vaccine. It is given in 3 doses intramuscularly; the second dose is given 1-2 months after the first, and the last is given 6 months after the first dose. The A and B vaccine is a combination of the above and is dosed in the same way as the Hepatitis B vaccine. It is available under the brand name Twinrix.

Last Reviewed 12/5/2017
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hepatitis C Medications:

Hepatitis C Medications - Experience

Please share your experience with hepatitis C drugs.

Hepatitis C - Direct-Acting Agents

Please share your experience with DAA drugs (type of drug, any side effects, etc.). Also, is your hepatitis cured?

Hepatitis C - Interferons

Please share your experience with interferons to treat hep C (for example, side effects, drug interactions, etc.).

Hepatitis C - Ribavirin

Please share your experience with ribavirin (for example, side effects, drug interactions, etc.).

Hepatitis C Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of acute hep C infection include:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy skin

Symptoms of chronic hep C infection include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored bowel movents

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hepatitis C »

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 170 million individuals worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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