Curing Chronic Hepatitis C: easy as 1, 2, 3

July 2023

By Richard Sterling, M.D., M.Sc., Chief Clinical Officer of the VCU Stravitz-Sanyal Institute and Director of Viral Hepatitis at VCU Health

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults age 18 and older be screened for hepatitis C once in their lifetime by a routine blood test that looks for antibodies to the virus.

Those who test positive need to have another test to see if the virus is present. Some people who have been exposed to the virus clear the infection without any further treatment. But if the hepatitis C virus is detected, evaluating and treating hepatitis C is easy as 1, 2, 3. 

Long gone is the need to do an invasive liver biopsy to determine how much liver damage you have, take injections that have significant side effects for up to a year, and then face only a 50-50 chance that you’ll be cured.

Now, we start with a simple index based on routine blood work called the FIB-4, which was developed here at VCU. The FIB-4 is now the gold standard, used around the world, as the initial screening test in most liver diseases.

Your physician may do a simple office test, called a Fibroscan,® to assess how stiff your liver is. Treatment consists of daily pills, with no side effects, taken for 8-12 weeks, depending on which brand of medication your medical insurance approves, with minimal side effects.

With no liver biopsy and no injections, taking pills for only a few months can now cure hepatitis C more than 95% of the time. 

Simple as 1, 2, 3.

To make an appointment to see a physician regarding evaluation and treatment for hepatitis C, call (804) 828-7929 or (800) 762-6161, toll free, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. An appointment specialist can schedule an office visit for you at a convenient VCU location.