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The Hepatitis Virus

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There’s no fast and easy cure for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), but researchers are constantly breaking new ground.

While current Hep C treatment ranges from managing hepatitis symptoms to possibly curing hepatitis, future treatments may look to other antiviral techniques that may be more effective and reduce side-effects, which are pretty nasty with the currently available drugs.

Over at Rockefeller University, they’re developing new ways to study Hep C treatment, including developing animal models (Hep C is a human-only virus). Better understanding how the Hep C virus works is critical to developing new treatments, as the virus is talented at evading the immune system and adapting it’s reproduction in protest to drugs that seek to block it. New Hep C treatment discoveries could include antivirals that block the Hep C virus from cell entry.

Traditional Hep C treatment includes interferon and ribavirin. Interferon is naturally produced by your immune system, and interferon medication is designed to work against Hep C, but it produces extreme flu-like side effects and may lower your white blood cell count. Ribavirin interferes with Hep C replication, but may lower your red blood cell count.

Hep C treatment largely hinges on how early treatment is begun; Hep C may not show up in a blood test until after 6 months from infection, and many people may experience little to no symptoms, which is why it’s important to get tested twice yearly (more frequently if you’re at higher risk). Hepatitis symptoms can appear as the flu, so if you have flu-like symptoms (nausea, fatigue, fever) that don’t go away, get tested.

If left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause liver failure, so prevention combined with regular doctors visits for screening is important. The strength of the immune system plays a big factor in how effective Hep C treatments are, so be sure to eat right, exercise, rest, and take supplements that may help you maintain a strong immune system. This is also important for those with chronic Hep C, as there symptoms will fluctuate depending on their immune system strength.

If you’re interested in reading some of the research that Rockefeller University puts out regarding Hep C, Click Here.

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