Department of Internal Medicine and Research Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242; Roy G. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major global health problem-there are approximately 120-130 million chronic infections worldwide. Since discovery of HCV 24 y ago, there has been a relentless effort to develop successful antiviral therapies. Studies of interferon-α(IFN)-based therapies have helped define treatment parameters, and these treatment strategies have cured a substantial percentage of patients. However, IFN must be injected, and there are problems with tolerability, adherence, and incomplete response in a large percentage of patients. New drug candidates designed to target the virus or the host have recently been introduced at an unprecedented pace. In phase I-III studies, these agents have exceeded expectations and achieved rates of response previously not thought possible. We are therefore entering a new era of therapy for HCV infection and interferon independence.