Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the most prevalent infections worldwide and a major cause of morbidity and mortality, especially in persons dually infected with HIV. Since 1991, treatment of HCV has been based on administration of interferon alfa. However, HCV replication models were recently characterized markedly expanding development of new antiviral compounds. In May 2011, the US FDA approved two new agents that inhibit the viral protease and markedly improve HCV treatment outcomes. Additional compounds that affect other steps in the viral lifecycle are under development and may make it possible to eradicate HCV infection without use of interferon alfa. In addition to identification of new antiviral compounds, it will be necessary to adopt new treatment strategies to ensure that these exciting breakthroughs penetrate into hard-to-reach populations with HCV such as injection drug users.
© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.