Until recently, the treatment standard for chronic hepatitis C infection has been alpha intereron monotherapy. Approximately 40% of interferon-treated patients show biochemical and virological response at the end of therapy; however, more than one-half of these responders relapse after treatment cessation. Attempts to improve these response rates have included modifying the dose or regimen of interferon and combining interferon with other antiviral agents (e.g. ribavirin). Results obtained with pegylated alpha interferon, which has a longer duration of activity than standard interferon, are also encouraging.

Despite our improved understanding of the disease, a number of controversies surrounding the treatment of chronic hepatitis C still exist. The role of this symposium is to address some of these controversies and unanswered questions. Today you will hear a discussion of the use of surrogate markers in treatment and management of hepatitis C, about difficult-to-treat patient populations and some alternative treatment regimens in development, the effect of interferon on the risk of liver disease progression to hepatocellular carcinoma and how to best treat hepatitis C patients with cirrhosis.

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