For people with HCV who receive a diagnosis before any liver damage or scarring occurs, the prognosis will tend to be better than for people who receive a diagnosis after scarring or liver damage has already occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that people undergo testing for HCV, especially if they were born between 1945 and 1965, have used injectable drugs, or have other potential risk factors.
Detecting and diagnosing the infection early may allow the person to treat it before liver damage or scarring can occur.
The majority of people with chronic HCV will display no symptoms until decades after infection, unless other complications develop.
Some potential complications of chronic HCV include:
Treatment will vary based on the genotype of the virus and the presence of any other health conditions a person has. Treatments are continually improving, making it possible for a person to live an active and normal life with HCV.
Following treatment, a person’s doctor will often check again for the viral load, or the amount of virus, in their blood. Treatment usually completely rids the body of the virus.
In other cases, a person may need to change their medications to better treat the virus.
In the United States, typical treatments for HCV used to include interferon, which is an injection, and ribavirin, which is an oral medication. However, newer medications called direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are starting to make the treatment process shorter and more effective.
Certain DAAs can target specific genotypes of HCV. Targeted treatments can help improve the outcome for some people.
The prognosis of chronic HCV is typically very good, and as treatment continues to improve, it will only get better. Most people with chronic HCV can live a normal life, providing that doctors are able to diagnose it before any liver damage or other complications occur.
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