1National Reference Center for Viral Hepatitis B, C and D, Department of Virology, Hôpital Henri Mondor, Université Paris-Est, Créteil, France; INSERM U955, Créteil, France. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2Toronto Centre for Liver Disease, Sandra Rotman Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3Medizinische Klinik 1, Klinikum der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
4Liver Disease Research Branch, Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) was discovered in the late 1980s. Interferon (IFN)-α was proposed as an antiviral treatment for chronic hepatitis C at about the same time. Successive improvements in IFN-α-based therapy (dose finding, pegylation, addition of ribavirin) increased the rates of sustained virologic response, i.e. the rates of curing HCV infection. These rates were further improved by adding the first available direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs to the combination of pegylated IFN-α and ribavirin. An IFN-free era finally started in 2014, yielding rates of sustained virologic response over 90% in patients treated for 8 to 24weeks with all-oral regimens. Major challenges however remain in implementation of these new treatment strategies, not only in low- to middle-income countries, but also in high-income countries where the price of these therapies is still prohibitive. Elimination of HCV infection through treatment in certain areas is possible but raises major public health issues.