Viral Hepatitis

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FAQ: How often is treatment successful?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often is treatment successful?

Treatment success is defined as "Sustained Virological Response" (SVR). This is when there is no virus that can be detected in the bloodstream while the patient is on the treatment and that when the treatment is finished, the blood still has no detectable virus 6 months later.

In the early years when hepatitis C was discovered, existing treatments had very poor response rates. As treatments have been developed, response rates have been improving. For pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment, response rate mostly depends on the hepatitis C genotype. Genotype 1 patients have around 45% chance of success with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Genotype 2 or 3 patients have around 75% chance of success with pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

For pegylated interferon, ribavirin and either telaprevir or boceprevir treatment for genotype 1 patients, success is much higher--around 65-70% of patients have success.

Factors that affect the success rates of treatment are:

  • The medications used; different medications have different success rates
  • Hepatitis C genotype of the patient (1, 2, 3, etc)
  • The level of the HCV RNA in the blood--"the viral load"
  • IL28B genotype--this is part of the human DNA and different people have a different IL28B genotype. Some IL28B genotypes make it much more likely that treatment for hepatitis C will be successfu.
  • The degree of scarring in the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Having HIV at the same time
  • Blood and liver iron levels
  • Sex, race, and body weight
  • Age at infection
  • Length of infection