Spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C from an acute infection is possible, and is more common in younger females, individuals infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 1, and individuals with certain genetic polymorphisms, particularly near the IL28B gene. Despite the chance of spontaneous clearance from acute hepatitis C, treatment should still begin for most affected people in the acute stage.
Most newly diagnosed people are already in the chronic stage of a hepatitis C infection and require treatment with antivirals to eradicate the virus. Newly developed “direct-acting” antivirals have improved treatment considerably with fewer side effects and shorter treatment periods. Nowadays, over 90% of individuals infected with hepatitis C can be cured with 8-12 weeks of oral therapy. Effective treatment slows down the progression of inflammation and scarring of the liver and reduces the chances of liver cancer. However, antivirals do not help repair any tissue damage that has already occurred. Serious complications from hepatitis C may result in a necessary liver transplant.