Hepatitis C virus: virology, diagnosis and management of antiviral therapy

World J Gastroenterol. 2007 May 7;13(17):2461-6. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v13.i17.2461.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 170 million individuals worldwide. Prevention of HCV infection complications is based on antiviral therapy with the combination of pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin. The use of serological and virological tests has become essential in the management of HCV infection in order to diagnose infection, guide treatment decisions and assess the virological response to antiviral therapy. Anti-HCV antibody testing and HCV RNA testing are used to diagnose acute and chronic hepatitis C. The HCV genotype should be systematically determined before treatment, as it determines the indication, the duration of treatment, the dose of ribavirin and the virological monitoring procedure. HCV RNA monitoring during therapy is used to tailor treatment duration in HCV genotype 1 infection, and molecular assays are used to assess the end-of-treatment and, most importantly the sustained virological response, i.e. the endpoint of therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Genotype
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / pathogenicity*
  • Hepacivirus / physiology
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Serologic Tests
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral