What to Do With a Positive Hepatitis C Test

Previous partial responders and relapsers get the four-week lead in of peginterferon and ribavirin, followed by triple therapy for at least 36 weeks if negative viral-load measurements are found at 8, 12, 24, and 36 weeks. A patient who had measurable viral load at week 8 but was below 100IU/mL would continue treatment for a total of 36 weeks and then dual therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin for 48 weeks.

Null responders and all cirrhotic patients get a four-week lead-in, followed by triple therapy with boceprivir, peginterferon and ribavirin for a total of 44 weeks. Any time the viral load measurement is above 100IU/mL, the treatment is discontinued. 

Telaprevir. This medication is given orally 750mg (two 375mg tablets) t.i.d. every eight hours with a high-fat 20g snack. RGT for telaprevir includes starting with triple therapy. Therapy for treatment-naïve and previous relapsers includes all three medications up front (telaprevir, peginterferon and ribavirin) for a period of 12 weeks. Depending on response, the treatment can end as early as 24 weeks or may continue for up to 36 weeks. Patients with cirrhosis may benefit from a full 48-week course.

For a previous partial responder or null responder, prescribe triple therapy (telaprevir, peginterferon and ribavirin) for 12 weeks, followed by 36 weeks of peginterferon and ribavirin alone. If viral load is nondetected at week 4 and week 12, discontinue the telaprevir and continue the peginterferon and ribavirin for a total response-week duration of 24 weeks. If the viral load is detectable but below 1,000IU/mL at week 4 and week 12, continue the treatment to week 12, and then order an additional 36 weeks of dual therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin for a total treatment duration of 48 weeks. If at any time the viral load measurement goes above 1,000IU/mL, at week 4, week 12, or detectable at week 24, the therapy is discontinued. 


Educate patients on the importance of adequate hydration and maximizing nutrition and energy-conservation strategies. If possible, clinicians should work with their patient’s employer to see about decreasing 12-hour shifts to 8 hours to maximize energy conservation.

It is imperative that patients undergoing treatment for hepatitis C be able to continue to work, as this provides a distraction from the side effects of the medication. Counseling, patient support groups, or referral for professional help should also be considered. 

Advise patients to use moisturizer to prevent rashes and dry skin. Alopecia can be minimized through less-frequent hair manipulation. Antiemetics for nausea, hematologic support for anemia and premedication with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and alternating with acetaminophen for flulike symptoms is recommended. 

During treatment monitoring, have the patient visit every other week for side-effect management, counseling, and review of lab data. Viral load measurements throughout the course of treatment as described by the PI treatment algorithms are recommended and should be adhered to for the futility rules. 

Above all, no PI should be stopped once it is started. The chance of developing resistance to these medications rapidly increases with the omission of even one dose. It is essential that all patients take peginterferon and ribavirin with these medications as well, and they are not interchangeable. Always stop the PI if the viral load measurement continues to increase. 

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor