Acute HCV is uncommonly diagnosed, but studies suggest that early treatment with interferon-based therapy decreases the risk of progression to chronic disease.
For patients with chronic HCV, the current recommended therapy is the combination of interferon alfa and ribavirin over many months. The goal is to eliminate the virus and control symptoms, improve liver function, and prevent complications of progressive liver disease including cirrhosis, liver failure, and hepatic carcinoma.
Abstinence from alcohol is also essential to the efficacy of therapy. People with chronic hepatitis C should regularly see their physicians and consult them before taking new medications or herbal supplements as they can potentially cause more liver damage. Likewise, there is no current vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.
Geometric Medical illustrates in the following animation the initial stages of HCV replication where the HCV virus enters a Hepatocyte cell of the liver. Once entered, the viral RNA is then released. Watch Video
1Department of Health & Human Resources, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Viral Hepatitis, June 2010
2Hepatitis C, Cleveland Clinic, Center for Continuing Education, Medical Publication, 2012