Cure through medication

NOMOREC

Important messages
- Hepatitis C is curable with medication. The medication you get is called Direct Acting Agents (DAAs).
- The treatment with DAAs is very effective and has almost no side effects.
- You often can start the DAAs treatment 4-6 weeks after being infected. Discuss with your doctor if this is possible for you.

DAA's

Nowadays, there is a very effective treatment available for hepatitis C. There are almost no side effects and treatment doesn’t take long. This medication is called Direct Acting Agents or DAAs.

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Treatment takes 8–12 weeks. If you have chronic hepatitis C (the infection lasts longer than six months), your Dutch health insurance will pay for your DAAs. In some cases it is possible to get treatment without having to wait for six months. See below at “Treatment of a recent infection”.

 

 

Benefits of getting treated quickly

There are two important reasons why you should get treatment as soon as possible.

  • Getting treated quickly helps you to avoid liver damage.
  • Being cured makes it impossible to pass on the virus.

Many start treatment 4-6 weeks after diagnosis

It often is possible to start soon with your hepatitis C treatment. “Soon” means 4-6 weeks after you learn you have hepatitis C.

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  • Doctors always wait 4-6 weeks to see if your body heals itself of the virus. Unfortunately, for people with have HIV the chances of “self-healing” are small: 10-15% experience a spontaneous cure. For people who do not have HIV the chances are a bit higher: 30-40%.
  • If after 4-6 weeks your doctor concludes that the chances of a spontaneous cure is close to zero, treatment with DAAs can be

 

 

Being cured of hepatitis C

If the virus can no longer be found in your body 12 weeks after completing your treatment, then you have officially been cured. This means you can no longer pass on the virus. However, you can get infected with hepatitis C again.

 

Personal stories

Vasilis - 44 years old

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 ‘In 2016 I found out that I had hepatitis C. I was treated for three months with the latest medication. I didn’t experience many side effects, though I did get tired quicker. I sometimes also felt a little bit down, but I don’t know if that was because of the medication or because of the situation I was in. Overall, treatment was all right.‘

 

 

Bas - 38 years old

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 ‘The first time I had hepatitis C was in 2011. I got treated with the old medication and had to inject myself with peginterferon – the standard treatment at that time - once a week. What I found most difficult was not having sex for six whole months. I stopped having sex because I didn’t want to pass on the virus to anyone else. After the second time I got infected in 2016, the treatment with DAA's only lasted three months. So it really was a relief that I was cured in half the time‘.

 

Christiaan - 26 years old

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 ‘I’ve had hepatitis C twice. The first time my body healed itself. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen when I got infected again in 2017. Although my viral load was low, I couldn’t get rid of the virus. So I decided to start with DAA's. I had to change my HIV medication before I started treatment. This was necessary because there was a chance that my “old“ HIV medication would not go well with the hepatitis C medication. I told my doctor I wanted HIV medication I could take without eating. I didn’t react well to the change in HIV medication. I couldn’t sleep well and my mind felt restless. I agreed with my doctor to try a different HIV medication, one that I had to take with food. My body reacted better this time. In short, my problems came from switching HIV medication. That is something to watch out for. The hepatitis C medication itself was fine; I didn’t have any bad experiences with it.‘

 

 

Kees - 34 years old

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 ‘I have had hepatitis C twice: once in 2011 and again in 2016. I was treated with DAA's the second time. I was cured within three months. Did I experience any side effects? Yes, I did. I felt tired, especially when I woke up in the morning. I was fine during the day, but by eight or nine o’clock in the evening I was tired again. But this tiredness was nothing compared to the tiredness I experienced in 2011, when I was treated with the old medication. I was able to continue working then, but that was all I had the strength to do. Work, sleep, work, sleep — for 24 weeks. The treatment with DAA's was a completely different story.‘

 

 

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