Interferons used in conjunction with ribavirin and a protease inhibitor are the most common medications utilized for up to a year to treat the hepatitis C virus, according to WebMD. If the liver has sustained extensive and irreparable damage, end-stage liver failure requires a liver transplant for survival.
If the first round of medication is ineffective, often other drugs are tried, based on how well the patient tolerated the first course, states WebMD. The decision to use drugs is based on the individual’s existing medical conditions, the specific type of hepatitis C they have contracted, coupled with the amount of virus present in the body, and the extent of liver damage sustained.
When exposure to the virus is recent and known, such as infection incurred from a tainted needle, early treatment with medications is often effective, although debate exists as of 2015 as to the optimal time frames in which to begin and finish drug treatment in acute cases, reports WebMD. Hepatitis C is often a silent viral infection, thus it is common for individuals to be infected for 15 years or more before receiving a diagnosis. By then, the infection has often progressed and considered chronic. If a liver biopsy and blood tests indicate that the liver has not sustained damage, treatment may not be required, but ongoing blood tests are recommended to assess the liver’s functionality over time.