[en] Antiviral Agents/therapeutic use ; Biopsy ; Hepatitis C, Chronic/drug therapy/pathology ; Humans ; Severity of Illness Index ; Treatment Outcome
[en] Infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) represents an important public health problem and is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Chronic hepatitis C is a heterogeneous disease. Many patients have mild disease at presentation but not all of them will develop advanced liver disease. However, the identification of these patients with mild hepatitis C who will show progressive disease is difficult and is based on histological criteria and the assessment of co-factors (age, alcohol intake, steatosis). In addition, serum transaminases that are persistently normal on several occasions during 18 months may point to a more benign course. Patients with mild hepatitis C should not be excluded "a priori" from the possibility of being treated, as treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin is safe and effective in this group. Overall, the decision to initiate therapy should be individualized and based on the severity of the disease by liver biopsy, the potential of serious side effects, the probability of response and the motivation of the patient.