In addition to the use of HAART-(Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy) for the suppression of HIV, the treatment of choice for individuals co-infected with hepatitis C is to use pegylated interferon plus weight-based ribavirin.
- Pegylated Interferon is a medication formed by combining polyethylene glycol (PEG) to an infection fighting protein known as interferon. The body produces interferon naturally in response to infection. Adding PEG to interferon allows the molecule to remain in the body longer than regular interferon- increasing its anti-viral potency and enabling patients to take pills less frequently. Studies have demonstrated that eradication of HCV occurs more frequently with pegylated interferon compared with regular, non-pegylated forms of interferon.
- Ribavirin is an anti-viral drug that works by interfering with the RNA metabolism of HCV. HCV relies on RNA, rather than DNA for its "blueprint" and hijacks the body's own cellular machinery to reproduce itself. Researchers have proposed several molecular mechanisms to explain ribavirin's mode of antiviral action, and it is currently thought that several mechanisms may be at work simultaneously.
Specific medical needs will vary significantly between individual patients and may change over time. The physician, or provider, will determine the most appropriate course of individualized treatment based on the patient's actual circumstances and on clinical findings.