Hepatitis C is one of three forms of the disease. Along with hepatitis B, it can become chronic.
However, there are now two new drugs out that can help treat the disease, said Taing Tek Hong, a US-based physician who was a guest on “Hello VOA” last week.
Treatment and response to hepatitis, which is a swelling of the liver and is used to describe a viral infection in the liver, differ. In hepatitis C, the response depends on the type.
Genotype 1 of the disease is the most difficult to treat and takes the longest. Genotypes 2 and 3 are responsive to a drug combination of Peg-Interferon and Ribavirin and are easily cured in a short period of time, Taing Tek Hong said.
“The new drugs are designed primarily to treat genotype 1,” he said.
The drugs are Incivek, or Telaprevir, and Victrelis, or Boceprevir, and improve the cure rate for Hepatitis C, genotype 1, from around 50 percent to up to 90 percent, the doctor said.
“They are very difficult to use and every expensive,” he said. “A very strict protocol has to be followed for them to be effective. The most serious side effects are severe anemia and skin rashes.”
Hepatitis C can be contracted through birth to an infected mother, sex with an infected person, tattooing or piercing from unsterilized tools, accidental needle sticks, drug needle sharing, or even using an infected persons razor or toothbrush, he said.