|Treatment options||Genotypes 1-4||Genotypes 5-6|
If you have hep C genotypes 5 or 6, your treatment would be sofosbuvir with peginterferon and ribavirin. Other new drugs for treating hep C are under development and in the approval process. When these new drugs are made available, this information will be updated.
Sofosbuvir with peginterferon and ribavirin gives a cure in more than 90 people in every 100.
Sofosbuvir/peginterferon/ribavirin combination treatment lasts for 12 weeks.
Are there injections?
Sofosbuvir pills are taken once a day, and ribavirin pills are taken twice a day, while pegylated interferon injections are taken once a week. The injections are under the skin around the abdomen (stomach).
Treatment side effects
The most common side effects of this treatment are fatigue, headache, throwing up, sleep problems, itching and crawling of the skin, and anaemia (low blood platelets).
There are some drug-to-drug interaction issues, but most issues will be able to be handled with changing accompanying medications, or through careful monitoring.
Pregnancy must be strictly avoided by both men and women (during treatment and for 24 weeks after). This is because ribavirin has been shown to cause birth defects.
The sofosbuvir with interferon and ribavirin combination is available via liver clinics and specialists.
See www.hep.org.au/services-directory/ for a listing of specialist liver/hepatitis clinics across NSW. This list will also be updated on a regular basis. To have one of our workers do a search for you, please call the Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 803 990.
Preparing for treatment
First, you will have to see a GP for a referral to your nearest hospital liver clinic. At the clinic, you’ll be assessed for treatment. This will involve full blood testing and possible assessment of your fibrosis stage, via Fibroscan.
Filling of prescriptions
Because your prescription is provided at a liver clinic in a public hospital, you’ll need to go to the hospital pharmacy.
The actual medicines are free but you will be charged the usual co-payment paid for a prescription. This is currently $38.30 per month for general patients and $6.20 per month if you have a Health Care Card.
Treatment monitoring and follow up
During treatment, you will have to visit the liver clinic for monitoring blood tests. Your specialist will do a PCR viral load test to assess whether treatment is working well.
The visit will probably involve other blood testing, including things like Full Blood Count, Urea, Electrolytes and Liver Function.
“Cure” or “SVR” (Sustained Virological Response) means that you have got rid of the hep C virus from your body. This is measured by a PCR viral detection test. If you have one of these tests at 24 weeks after treatment finishes and it shows “undetectable” (no virus), then you are considered to be cured.
But if hep C has caused liver damage already, being cured (getting rid of the virus) might not mean that you are healthy again all of a sudden. If you have cirrhosis (serious liver damage), you will still need to see a doctor or specialist for ongoing care (including Fibroscan examinations every 6 months). If you have cirrhosis you still have a risk of liver cancer, even after being cured of hep C.
Talk to your doctor about what “cure” should mean for you.
Children and treatment
Children with hep C should be seen and assessed by a paediatrician (children’s doctor) who knows about hepatitis. To find out more about care and treatment for children, phone the gastro unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (02 9845 3989).
Support and counselling
It’s good to have some support in place so that if treatment gets tough you have people who will understand and help.
This might mean talking to a friend or a group of friends about the help you may need – for example, you may need a lift to the hospital for your regular treatment check-ups, especially if you’re not feeling well.
Talking to your family and friends about possible treatment side-effects means they’ll be better prepared to help you deal with them if they come up. You might also like to think about professional support.
You and those who are supporting you on treatment can access free counselling through Hepatitis NSW’s Let’s Talk counselling program.
For more news, subscribe to The Champion e-newsletter, and call the Hepatitis Infoline (1800 803 990).
This page last updated 14 Feb 2017.
Content drawn from Australian Recommendations for the Management of Hepatitis C Virus Infection: a Consensus Statement 2016, and publications of ASHM, The Kirby Institute and The Centre for Social Research in Health, and vetted by our Medical and Research Advisory Panel.