Hepatitis B: treatments

Hepatitis B virus carriers do not all require treatment. It will be prescribed only in certain cases, especially during chronic active hepatitis (which can progress to serious complications).

Today, there is no definitive cure for hepatitis B. Existing drugs block the spread of the virus, make it disappear from the circulating blood, and prevent complications.

In all cases of chronic hepatitis, the following recommendations are important to avoid promoting progression to cirrhosis:

  • Stop the consumption of alcohol,
  • Precautions for taking drugs that may be toxic to the liver (such as paracetamol),
  • Treatment of the risks of fat overload (overweight, diabetes, too much cholesterol, too much triglycerides).
    When the disease must be treated, there are 5 validated treatments (seniority: interferon, lamivudine, adefovir, entecavir and tenofovir), the most effective being: tenofovir, entecavir and interferon.
  • Tenofovir is an antiviral drug also used in HIV treatments. It has the ability to significantly reduce the viral load of the patient.
    It does not cure the disease, but it allows, in most cases to stabilize it. The dosage is one tablet a day. Side effects are very rare (sometimes kidney failure). The risk of developing resistance to this drug is less than 5% at 5 years.
  • Entecavir is also a very effective antiviral in first intention. The side effects are exceptional. The risk of developing resistance to this drug is less than 5% at 5 years.
  • Interferon. Interferons are proteins naturally produced by the immune system. Their role is to defend the body against certain pathogens such as viruses. Used in the treatment of hepatitis B, interferons appear to have a more prolonged action than other treatments, with less relapse within a year of stopping treatment.

However, they cause more painful side effects: depression, hair loss, skin disorders, falling white blood cells (therefore, immune defenses), influenza syndromes ...

But again, for the time being, there is no treatment capable of definitively curing hepatitis B. Existing treatments only make it possible to reduce viral loads and to avoid or delay liver complications.

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