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5 Strategies for Sticking to a Hepatitis C Treatment Plan

Give yourself the best chance of a cure by following through on your treatment.

Setting reminders can help you take hep C medication consistently and give yourself the best chance of success with treatment.

Updated on December 1, 2023

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause serious liver disease if it's not treated. The good news is that there are treatments available and hepatitis C is curable in more than 95 percent of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

To give yourself the best chance of being cured of hepatitis C, it's important to follow your treatment regimen as strictly as possible. This means taking your medication exactly as prescribed.

Why medication adherence can be tricky

While it may sound simple to follow your treatment plan, it can be challenging for a number of reasons. Hepatitis C medications must be taken every single day—and ideally at the same time each day—for several months. The duration of treatment will depend on a number of factors and it's important to work with a healthcare provider (HCP) to decide on an approach to treatment that gives you the best chance of being cured.

Skipping doses or stopping a course of treatment early can have consequences, including the treatment becoming less effective, which means it may not cure the hepatitis C infection. In some cases, the infection may also become resistant to that particular medication if the drug is not used correctly. If a hepatitis C infection becomes resistant to a medication, a person will need to start over with a different medication. The virus may be more difficult to cure, treatment will be much more expensive, and meanwhile, the infection will still be active inside the body, causing further damage to the liver.

Here are a few tips and strategies to help you stay on track with hepatitis C treatment to give yourself the best chance of being cured.

Work with your healthcare provider

Having an open, honest line of communication with your HCP is one of the best things you can do when being treated for any illness. Prior to starting treatment, bring up any concerns you have about your ability to follow the full course of therapy. This might include issues with your ability to take medication consistently due to work schedule or the cost of the medication. Addressing these concerns as early as possible can help prevent issues later.

Be clear about medication instructions

When talking to your HCP, make sure you have a full and accurate understanding of when and how your medications need to be taken. Some medications must be taken with food, some require several doses each day, some may be recommended at certain times during the day.

Set reminders

Many people miss doses or fall off a treatment regimen simply because they forget to take their medication. This is true of hepatitis C medications as well as medications for many other health conditions and illnesses. It may help to use cues and reminders to help you remember when to take your medication and to keep track of your doses. The best reminders are easy to see and difficult to ignore. Examples of reminders include:

  • Alarms on a phone, watch, or virtual assistant
  • Pill containers labeled with the days of the week
  • Keeping your medication in a spot where you will see it each day
  • A note or visual reminder left in a spot where it will be difficult to miss
  • Pairing your medication doses with specific routines, such as brushing your teeth

HCPs typically recommend that you use more than one reminder. For example, your primary reminder may be an alarm on your phone, but a note left in an obvious place—such as near your toothbrush—will help you remember to take your medication in the event that you misplace your phone or its battery runs out.

Pay attention to side effects

During treatment, communicate to your HCP about any side effects or possible drug interactions you may be experiencing. Side effects can make it difficult to continue with treatment, but your HCP may be able to help you find ways to cope with side effects in order to continue. If you are experiencing side effects, do not stop taking your medication unless directed to by your HCP. Always inform your HCP of any and all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Plan head for disruptions

Taking medication is easier when life follows a consistent schedule. It gets more challenging when that schedule is disrupted by things like travel or social engagements. Keep a calendar of what’s ahead and plan ahead for when you will take your medication on the days your routine changes. Also be prepared for unexpected disruptions, such as losing your house keys, car trouble, or inclement weather.

Article sources open article sources

American Liver Foundation. Treating Hepatitis C. Last updated on May 1, 2023.
Vincent Lo Re, MD, MSCE. Addressing Adherence Prior to Initiating HCV Treatment. Hepatitis C Online. May 31st, 2018.
Lo Re V 3rd, Amorosa VK, Localio AR, et al. Adherence to hepatitis C virus therapy and early virologic outcomes. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;48(2):186-193. 

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