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Hepatitis C: Glossary

You may hear some of these terms during your hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment. To learn more about these terms, ask your healthcare provider.

  • Alpha interferon. This is a shorter-acting type of interferon treatment. It is usually injected three times per week.

  • Combination therapy. This means using both interferon and ribavirin as treatment.

  • Decompensated. This means the liver can no longer do its job. It is in the final stages of cirrhosis. (When the liver can still do its job, it is compensated.)

  • End-stage liver disease. This means the liver is barely working. A liver transplant is needed at this point.

  • Nonresponder. This is someone for whom treatment does not work.

  • Peginterferon. This is a longer-acting type of interferon treatment. It is injected only once a week. It is also called pegylated interferon.

  • Platelet count. This tells how many platelets are in the blood. Platelets are cells in the blood that are needed for clotting. The platelet count goes down as scar tissue forms on the liver. This count helps doctors know how much liver damage there is.

  • Relapser. This is someone for whom treatment seems to work at first. But after treatment, the virus comes back.

  • Responder. This is someone for whom treatment works well. A sustained responder is still HCV-free 6 months after treatment ends.

  • Viral load. This is the amount of HCV in the blood at a given time. The lower the viral load, the better the chance that treatment will work.


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