Hepatitis C has been around for a long time; however, the virus was not scientifically identified until 1989. A few years later, the FDA approved the first treatment for this disease. This treatment, based on interferon, was the only treatment we could use at the time, but unfortunately did not provide high cure rates and created unpleasant side effects.
Fast forward to 2013 and subsequent years – when a series of direct-acting anti-viral medications gained FDA approval one after another – creating hope and health for huge numbers of people with hepatitis C. These medications are highly effective and well-tolerated; they work against all genotypes of the virus.
For the first time it is possible to imagine a world without hepatitis C. The barriers that remain are less related to the virus and its treatment, but rather due to less than ideal screening rates, barriers to health care access, and the high cost of the medications. As experts work to minimize these barriers, the potential for a hepatitis C future seems closer all the time.
Falade-Nwulia O, Suarez-Cuervo C, Nelson DR, et al. Oral direct-acting agent therapy for hepatitis C virus infection: A systematic review. Ann Intern Med 2017 Mar 21 [Epub ahead of print].