About 130-170 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide and more than 350000 people die each year of HCV-related liver diseases. The combination of pegylated interferon (Peg-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) was recommended as the treatment of choice for chronic hepatitis C for nearly a decade. In 2011 the directly acting antivirals (DAA) HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors, telaprevir and boceprevir, were approved to treat HCV-genotype-1 infection, each in triple combination with Peg-IFN and RBV. These treatments allowed higher rates of SVR than the double Peg-IFN + RBV, but the low tolerability and high pill burden of these triple regimes were responsible for reduced adherence and early treatment discontinuation. The second and third wave DAAs introduced in 2013-2014 enhanced the efficacy and tolerability of anti-HCV treatment. Consequently, the traditional indicators for disease management and predictors of treatment response should be revised in light of these new therapeutic options. This review article will focus on the use of the markers of HCV infection and replication, of laboratory and instrumental data to define the stage of the disease and of predictors, if any, of response to therapy in the DAA era. The article is addressed particularly to physicians who have patients with hepatitis C in care in their everyday clinical practice.
Keywords: Chronic hepatitis C; Directly acting antivirals; Hepatitis C virus infection; Hepatitis C virus replication; Staging.