Harvard Men's Health Watch

New drugs make treating hepatitis C faster and easier

In a minority of men, unchecked hepatitis C infection leads to liver damage or cancer. These drugs can quash the virus.

If you were born between 1945 and 1965, health experts now recommend that you be tested for infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Statistically, baby boomers are more likely than other adults to have HCV. The virus can remain in the liver for decades without causing symptoms. The damage it does can progress to fatal liver failure or cancer.

Until recently, it was difficult to sell men on being screened for HCV infection. The treatment required weekly injections of one drug and oral doses of one or two others. Treatment could take nearly a year, bringing side effects from the injected drug (called peginterferon) such as depression, anxiety, irritability, anemia, and fatigue.

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